“Father Kahlhamer was a man of compassion and caring beyond words,” Scott Kowski told The Visitor. He and his wife, Shelly Westbrock Kowski, and their sons, Alex and Austin, are members of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Sauk Centre.
“He was not only our pastor, but also our friend. We knew him not only in the church where we were blessed to have him marry us and baptize our two children but also outside of the church as a friend who would join us for dinner and family time. There were times where he would come out to the family house after a baptism or family wedding and join in conversation,” Kowski recalled.
Father Bernard Kahlhamer, 87, died Oct. 17 at Highland Senior Living in Little Falls. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Oct. 20 at St. Joseph Church, Pierz, with Bishop Donald Kettler officiating. Burial was at St. John’s Cemetery in Lastrup.
“He showed us who he was as an individual and as a man of God, which made him very approachable and made us feel more comfortable in our faith and being able to open up and express our faith,” Kowski said.
“I enjoyed his years in Sauk Centre and it was a huge void to fill when he left. We continued to follow him when he moved to Duelm and tried our best to stay in touch. For one man to have that effect on a family is extraordinary, and he is deeply missed. He was the epitome of what a small town pastor should be — a pastor, a friend and a great community member.”
Father Kahlhamer was born May 22, 1931, to Wendelin and Bertha (Zak) Kahlhamer, the first of six children. He attended Crosier Seminary in Onamia, and one year at St. Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin before attending St. John’s Seminary in Collegeville where he was ordained June 6, 1959. He celebrated his first Mass June 7, 1959, at St. John Nepomuk Church, Lastrup.
In the diocese, Father Kahlhamer served in the following assignments: associate pastor, St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge; Holy Spirit, St. Cloud; pastor, St. Joseph, Bertha; St. Peter, St. Cloud; associate pastor, St. Anthony, St. Cloud; pastor, Assumption, Morris; Our Lady of the Angels, Sauk Centre; St. Lawrence, Duelm, and St. Patrick, Minden. Father Kahlhamer served as dean of the Sauk Centre Deanery and as chaplain for the Catholic Commission on Scouting. He retired June 30, 2011.
A lifelong member of Boy Scouts, he was a national chaplain and attended jamborees in Japan and Oregon. He made at least a dozen trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with youth groups from his parishes.
Father Kahlhamer was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Angeline; brothers; Roman, Andrew and Sylvester; brother-in-law, Kenneth Henagan and sister-in-law, Minnie. He is survived by his brother, Tony (Janice); sisters-in-law, Alice and Virginia and many nieces and nephews.