Fr. Karl Hoeppe was a fixture at Toronto’s St. Patrick’s parish for more than 50 years. Photo courtesy of Fr. Santo Arrigo

Fr. Hoeppe served German parish for half a century

  • June 16, 2014

Toronto - Maria Luxbacher credits Fr. Karl Hoeppe with influencing both her boys’ decisions to enter the seminary. He was an example to children that priests do more than just preach on Sunday, she said. 

Fr. Hoeppe, 84, died on June 11 at Toronto’s Humber River Regional Hospital. He had served the German community of St. Patrick’s in downtown Toronto for almost half a century.

Fr. Hoeppe was born on April 6, 1930, in then Czechoslovakia. He entered a Redemptorist novitiate in Germany in 1950 and was ordained in 1956. In Germany, he was a teacher and associate pastor.

More than 50 years ago, Fr. Hoeppe moved to Canada from Germany to serve the German Catholics that moved to Toronto after the Second World War. On Sept. 1, 1966, he began to serve at St. Patrick’s. 

It was at St. Patrick’s where Luxbacher would work for Fr. Hoeppe as the parish secretary. She recalls a man who diligently looked after the sick.

“He went in the houses, in the hospitals (and) in the nursing homes,” she said, never wavering from his mission. “He was very kind to them.”

The parish was a community hub, said Luxbacher, and Fr. Hoeppe loved when the community would gather. He was good to the altar servers, she recalls, taking them to the park with the ladies of the women’s league. He was often a guest in the Luxbacher home, sharing dinner with the family. Even after his retirement as pastor in 2006, he continued to serve, concelebrating Mass up until a few weeks before his death. 

“He’s a quiet, gentle man. Always somebody that had a smile,” said Fr. Santo Arrigo, who took over as pastor of St. Patrick’s when the German and English parishes merged in 2011. “He was always surrounded by a congregation that was involved. He knew how to interact with the community well.”

He was “very, very faithful, like a rock,” said Luxbacher. 

Luxbacher, and other lay and pastoral staff at St. Patrick’s, were with Fr. Hoeppe in his final hours. 

“He will be remembered for his gentleness, his pleasant disposition and personality… but mostly for his care and compassion for those who were sick, homebound, the dying,” said Arrigo. “His pastoral care for the dying is what a lot of people talk about.”

Fr. Hoeppe is survived by his twin sisters, Emmi and Anni, who he went back home to visit every year. 

His funeral was celebrated June 15, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, at St. Patrick’s Church, and he was laid to rest on June 16 at Mount Hope Cemetery. 

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