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Recalling a ‘visionary’ priest who ‘made people feel like family’

Msgr. Vincent E. Krische served for 28 years at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He also served at 10 parishes over the years. His last assignment was as pastor emeritus at Corpus Christi Church in Lawrence. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Joe Bollig

LAWRENCE — Even a long string of adjectives wouldn’t do justice to the life and legacy of Msgr. Vincent E. Krische, whose outsized impact as a campus minister at the University of Kansas and pastor touched thousands of lives.

He was truly one of a kind.

“I knew no one could fill his shoes, and I wouldn’t even try,” said Father Mitchel Zimmerman, chaplain/director of the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas since 2016. “I’m grateful for everything I learned from him.”

“He was a visionary,” said his brother Larry Krische. “He was outgoing. He loved people. And he loved making their faith come alive. There were so many lives he touched.”

Msgr. Vince Krische passed away in his Lawrence home after a long bout with cancer on May 13 at the age of 84.

Msgr. Krische, 84, died in his Lawrence home after a long bout with cancer on May 13. A Mass of Christian Burial was on May 19 at Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence. Burial was at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Topeka.

Born on May 24, 1938, in Topeka, he was one of seven children of Frank Anthony and Pauline Marie (Melchior) Krische. The family belonged to St. Joseph Parish.

He attended St. Joseph Grade School and Hayden High School in Topeka, graduating in 1956, and entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1960 and a master’s in religion in 1964.

He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler on May 23, 1964, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas. His first assignment was at St. Pius X Parish in Mission.

 Over the years, he served at 10 parishes and several ministries, most notably 28 years at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas.  Although retired in 2009, he continued to serve at Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence until unable to do so because of his health. He was a priest for more than 58 years.

Msgr. Vince Krische greets students of Corpus Christi School in Lawrence with a fist bump following Mass. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Father Bill Porter was a freshman in the fall of 1972 at Washburn University in Topeka when he knocked on the door of a ranch-style house that had been converted into a Catholic student center.

Coming from small-town Iola in the Diocese of Wichita, he was used to priests wearing birrettas and cassocks, usually with an Irish accent. Two young men answered the door, wearing T-shirts, blue jeans and penny loafers. The conversation with one of them went something like this:

“Is there a priest here?” said Porter.

“Yes, I’m a priest,” said Father Krische.

Is there another priest here?”

“No, I’m the only one.”

“What goes on here?”

“Oh, oh, really neat things,” and Father Krische, as he enthusiastically ticked off a list.

Porter became a campus minister. After college, he lived with Father Krische to prepare for the seminary. Father Porter was Father Krische’s associate from 1982 to 1989 and helped him build the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center into one of the top Catholic college ministries in the nation. The U.S. bishops even asked him to assist them with their pastoral letter on campus ministries.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann greets Msgr. Vince Krische outside his home in 2022. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

“Msgr. Krische was the kind of guy who painted with a big brush,” said Father Porter. “He was visionary and charismatic in his approach. He could sell ice to an Eskimo. He was passionate about helping students grow in their Catholic faith . . . to know their faith and live it in their professional lives and be a strong influence in society.”

Father Mitchel Zimmerman was a freshman from Hoxie when he arrived at the University of Kansas in 1992. He became involved in the choir and student leadership at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. He also worked in advancement from 1996 to 1999 before the seminary.

“He was a great inspiration,” said Father Zimmerman. “He was the most zealous and enthusiastic priest I’ve ever met. His love for the faith was infectious.”

After leaving campus ministry, Msgr. Krische returned to parish ministry. Even in retirement, he helped Father Mick Mulvany at Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence.

“Msgr. Krische was an incredibly pastoral person,” said Father Mulvany. “He loved people. His smile would light up a room, and if he didn’t know who you were, he would make a connection with someone in your family or your town. He made people feel like family.

“After church, he would spend hours laughing with people, talking, offering a shoulder for worries and telling jokes. Everyone wanted a moment with him, and I never saw him tell someone that he didn’t have time. He loved the church and described it as a place for everybody.”

Catholics and non-Catholics alike respected and liked him; Father Mulvany nicknamed him “the Archbishop of Lawrence.”

“Msgr. Krische made me a better priest,” said Father Mulvany. “His example of love, laughter and not taking yourself too seriously I will always carry with me.”

Msgr. Krische was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Father Frank Krische and sister Joan Boos. He is survived by a sister Lois Philips and brothers Jim, Larry and Bob, as well as numerous nephews and nieces.

Msgr. Krische’s assignments

1964 — Temporary associate pastor at St. Pius X Parish in Mission, St. Matthew Parish in Topeka and St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park

1967 — Associate pastor, Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park

1969 — Associate pastor, Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka

1970 — Pastoral administrator, St. John Vianney Mission in Eskridge, and chaplain at Catholic Student Center at Washburn University, Topeka

1977 — Co-pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence, and part of team serving Catholic campus centers at the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, then director/chaplain of St. Lawrence Center, Lawrence

2004 — Sabbatical

2005 — Pastor, St. Ann Parish, Prairie Village; named monsignor, chaplain of His Holiness

2009 — Retired, assisted at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence

2016 — Parochial administrator, Holy Family Parish in Eudora

2016 — Pastor emeritus at Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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