Service was key for priest who was pastor, military chaplain

Father Alexander Ludwig, 84, died April 26 at Grand Arbor Senior Living Community in Alexandria. He had served as a priest of the diocese for nearly 60 years.

The Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 7 p.m., May 4 at St. Mary Church in Alexandria. Visitation will be held from 3-6:45 p.m. prior to the funeral Mass at the church. Interment will be in Our Lady Cemetery, Manannah, Minnesota.

Father Alexander Ludwig

Following his ordination on June 7, 1958, Father Ludwig taught at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud and then served as associate pastor of Our Lady of Victory in Fergus Falls. He then began a 20-year career as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, which took him all over the world. He retired with the rank of colonel in 1980. In 1983, he became pastor of St. Mary Parish in Alexandria, where he served for 24 years. He retired in 2007.

“Father Al almost always ended his homily with, ‘And someday, the whole human family will live in peace,’” said Father Steven Binsfeld, current pastor of St. Mary’s. “Father Al was a man with ‘the bigger picture’ in mind. That is how he worked with people to build this wonderful church we have. People here did not want to have two parishes in town, but to remain one. He was instrumental in making that happen.”

Jim Boyle, retired parish business administrator for St. Mary’s who worked with Father Ludwig for eight years and was his friend for 18, remembers the priest’s closing statement at the end of every parish staff meeting was, “Let’s always find better ways to serve the people.”

His ministry in the military was a testament to that statement. Boyle reviewed Father Ludwig’s military citations and recalls stories he shared with him over time. Among them:

  • During the Vietnam War, Father Ludwig was stationed at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in northeast Thailand. He was concerned about people with leprosy who were not receiving medical care and was instrumental in several of them being evacuated to a Thai hospital for treatment.
  • Also while serving in Thailand, he once tried to stop an air raid scheduled for Easter Sunday, fearing that a Catholic cathedral in Hanoi could be struck and innocent people killed.
  • While assigned in the 1960s to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, Father Ludwig was outraged that black airmen were not allowed in many restaurants and bars in the area. He encouraged a local benefactor to purchase some of the establishments and end such practices.

Father Ludwig was born Dec. 8, 1933, in Richmond to Alex John and Irene (Cashman) Ludwig. He attended Catholic elementary school for six years. After graduating from St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville in 1950, he attended St. John’s University there, and in 1954 earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics. He remained at St. John’s, where he was ordained a priest and earned his master’s of divinity in theology in 1958.

Father Ludwig received a master’s of theology from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California, in 1975. In addition, he was a 1977 graduate of the War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He received the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and numerous other medals during his military career.

Father Ludwig was preceded in death by his parents, infant brother, aunts, uncles and cousins. Memorial donations are preferred to St. John’s School of Theology, Collegeville. Arrangements have been made through the Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria.

Author: The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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