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The Very Rev. Gregory Allen Kirsch, J.C.L., V.F.,Â 55, who was currently serving as pastor of Christ the King Parish in Houtzdale and at Immaculate Conception Parish in Madera, died Thursday, April 28, 2011, at Clearfield Hospital.
He was born May 29, 1955, in Clearfield, a son of the late Clair Joseph and Ruth Ermina (Feighner) Kirsch.Â
He attended St. Francis School from 1961 to 1969, then attended St. Francis High School, graduating in 1973.
Fr. Kirsch attended the Pennsylvania State University from 1973 to 1975 and then entered St. Mark Seminary, Erie.
He graduated with his bachelorâ€™s degree from Gannon University in Erie and earned his Master of Divinity degree from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y.
He was ordained to the priesthood May 15, 1981, and served as assistant pastor at Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish, Punxsutawney, from 1981 to 1987.Â He also served as assistant pastor of St. Peter Cathedral Parish, Erie, from 1987 to 1991.Â
In 1991, Fr. Kirsch was appointed vice-chancellor and Bishop's Master of Ceremonies for the Diocese of Erie.Â He continued in this capacity until 2000.Â
During this time, he received a Licentiate degree in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.Â
Fr. Kirsch served as pastor of St. Agnes Parish, Morrisdale, from 2000 to 2008, after which time he became pastor of Christ the King Parish, Houtzdale, and Immaculate Conception Parish, Madera.Â
He also served in the Erie Diocesan Office of Matrimonial Concerns, the Presbyteral Council, College of Consultors and as Dean of the Clearfield Deanery.Â He was a member of the Canon Law Society of America and the Knights of Columbus.
Fr. Kirsch had a love of gardening, be it planting and raising vegetables for canning or nurturing flowers. He was also fascinated by meteorology and astronomy.
He thoroughly enjoyed family vacations, especially at Ocean City, N.J., and cherished visiting his relatives at picnics and reunions. He also was an avid reader and dabbled in photography.
Surviving relatives include two sisters and six brothers, Suzanne Ross of Tyrone, Darrell Kirsch and wife Pat (McNamee) of Falls Creek, Dan Kirsch and wife Charlotte (O'Daniel) of Dayton, Ohio, Barry Kirsch and wife Terry (Moore) of West Chester, Richard Kirsch and wife Sally (Gailey) of DuBois, Marion Shirey and husband Greg of Indiana, Frank Kirsch and wife Lizz (Kerr) of Clearfield and Thomas Kirsch of Clearfield; and 23 nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two nieces, Bridget Kirsch and Caroline Kirsch; and a brother-in-law, John Ross.
Fr. Kirsch will lie in state from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 30, 2011, at St. Francis Catholic Church, Clearfield.
He will be received at noon Sunday, May 1, 2011, and lie in state at the parish until 8 p.m. at Christ the King Parish, Houtzdale.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday, May 2, 2011, at Christ the King Parish with the Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of the Erie Diocese, as celebrant.Â
Fr. Kirsch will lie in state at 3 p.m. Monday, May 2, 2011, at St. Nicholas Parish, Nicktown.Â He will then be transferred to the grave for committal services at 4 p.m. Monday.
Interment will follow at the St. Nicholas Cemetery, Nicktown.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Father Gregory Kirsch Scholarship Fund for the youth of Christ the King and Immaculate Conception Parishes, 123 Good St., Houtzdale, Pa. 16551.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Kevin A Beardsley Funeral Home, Inc., Clearfield.
Â To sign the online guestbook, go to www.beardsleyfuneralhome.com.