by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan — Father Carl Meinrad Dekat was the classic rural pastor, ministering to generations of Catholics in the country places he loved most.
“Father Carl Dekat was an awesome priest — 67 years ordained,” said Msgr. Michael Mullen, retired priest in residence at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee.
“He was a holy man, a very steady pastor and priest, with a great devotion to our Blessed Mother,” he said. “I don’t know how many pilgrimages he led. He was very dedicated to the people in the Wamego and Flush area.”
“I knew him very well and liked him,” said Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher. “I used to go out to visit him in the country. He was a fantastic priest, a wonderful priest, well beloved by the people.”
Father Dekat, from Flush, died on June 14 at the age of 92 at Good Shepherd Hospice House in Manhattan. Previously, he resided at an assisted living facility in Westmoreland, where he suffered a fall on June 8.
Father Dekat was born in July 5, 1927, in rural Flush. He was one of nine children of Henry A. and Johanna (Nuttman) Dekat.
He and his siblings attended St. Joseph Grade School and High School. When he was a teenager, he spent a summer with his uncle Father Eugene I. Dekat, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. His uncle inspired him to explore a priestly vocation.
Carl graduated from Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, and then from Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. Father Dekat was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler on Feb. 28, 1953, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
His first assignment was from 1953 to 1957 as associate pastor at St. Mary Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. He ministered at a succession of parishes in the years that followed, primarily in rural areas and small towns until he retired in July 2006.
Father Dekat had a busy retirement after he moved to the rectory at St. Joseph Parish in Flush. He’d celebrate Masses on a rotating basis to help Father Michael Peterson, pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Wamego; St. Joseph Parish, Flush; Holy Family Parish, Alma; and Sacred Heart Parish in Paxico.
“He was very loyal to the church and very dedicated,” said Father Peterson.
“He grew up on a small farm and carried that farm ethic throughout his life,” he added. “He was very devoted to people, very understanding.”
Additionally, Father Dekat would make home visits to shut-ins, visit nursing homes, hear confessions, celebrate funerals and lead rosaries.
“One thing I admired about him was that he was a people pastor,” said Father Bob Hasenkamp, a retired priest in Topeka. “He loved to bring Communion to people who were shut in. . . . It was a great source of comfort for those people to have their former pastor bring them Communion.”
Dan Dekat, a nephew, recalled that when he was 11 and his brother Edward was 9, they spent a summer with Father Dekat to “give my mother a break.” He admits the two of them “got in a lot of mischief,” but had a lot of fun.
While a teenager, Dan was at a family reunion in Wamego and asked to borrow his father’s car to “drive around and wave at girls.” His father said, “No,” but Father Dekat tossed him the keys to his Volkswagon Beetle and said, “Here, boys, you can have my car.”
“We ran around for a couple of hours, drained his gas tank, and had a ball,” said Dan.
Father Dekat is survived by his sister Dorene Taylor and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Isabel Gareis, Loretta Straub, Bernard Dekat, Arthur Dekat, Cleo Dekat, Donald Dekat and Gilbert Dekat.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated the Mass of Christian burial on June 25 at St. Joseph in Flush. Burial was in St. Joseph Cemetery.
Memorial contributions to the Father Carl Dekat Memorial Fund, to benefit the parishes he served, may be sent in care of Campanella- Evans Mortuary in Wamego.
Online condolences may be offered here.