‘A Grain of Wheat,’ compilation of homilies from the late Diocese of Wilmington priest Father Leonard Klein, set to publish in November

The late Father Leonard Klein and Bishop Malooly during the Cathedral of St. Peter 200th Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Sunday, April 10, 2016.

By Mike Lang, Dialog reporter July 18, 2022 – Wilmington, DE – Father Leonard R. Klein died in 2019, but his memory lives on through his words. The late priest delivered hundreds of homilies in 13 years as a Catholic priest, and now 65 of them are being made available in a book edited by his widow, Christa.

“A Grain of Wheat” will be available this November.

The couple did not discuss a project like this during his illness.

“I found a folder with some notes on his computer,” Christa Klein said.

After she delved into the homilies, she began picking out which ones would go into the 372-page book. They are organized by where they fall on the church calendar, with a section on solemnities and feasts. Another section is for occasional sermons, including five Father Klein delivered at weddings, his first as a Catholic priest, his daughter Renate’s funeral Mass, and one from the wake service for Father Richard John Neuhaus. Christa Klein said they didn’t need much editing.

Tracking down references Father Klein made during his homilies has been one of the stages of getting “A Grain of Wheat” into print. Each one has end notes. Christa Klein said her husband could make references from St. Augustine to the late singer Tom Petty.

“He was well-read theologically and culturally very aware. He always saw preaching to give people solid, substantial spiritual food but always very accessible,” she said.

Father Klein was a native of Easton, Pa., and ordained a Lutheran minister in 1972. He performed many duties in that capacity, including leading congregations in New York and Pennsylvania before entering the Catholic Church in 2003. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2006 by the late Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli.

He was an associate pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brandywine Hundred and a hospital chaplain, as well as a member of the Family Life Bureau in his early years as a priest. In 2011, he became pastor of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick parishes in Wilmington, and he was named rector of St. Peter Cathedral two years later.

“When he first came, he was not in a parish as a pastor. In fact, the Vatican only more recently under Benedict would allow that for married priests,” Christa Klein said.

He was also a board member at St. Francis Hospital, and director of the Office for Pro-Life Activities and chair of the Respect Life Committee for the diocese.

Christa Klein began the book project two years ago.

“It was a very good project for the pandemic, and for a new widow,” she said. “I was hearing his voice.

“What you have to imagine is a profound 50-year friendship. It’s precious.”

The foreword to “A Grain of Wheat” was written by Catholic commentator George Weigel. He and Father Klein knew each other for years. They met through Father Neuhaus, who, like Father Klein, was a Lutheran pastor before converting to Catholicism in 1990. He was the founder of the journal First Things, where Weigel is a longtime featured author.

In his introduction, Weigel writes that Father Klein was “a shining witness to what it means to be a good shepherd of the flock.

“He nourished his people with the word of God and the grace of the sacraments. He could do so because he was himself a radically converted Christian whose ministry grew out of a life of prayer and study. Leonard Klein’s distinctive life experience is not easily replicable. But his example, as a biblically literate Christian and a minister of the Gospel, could well be emulated by many,” he wrote.

Father Klein was chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society of the Diocese of Wilmington, a group of Catholic lawyers and others in the legal profession. That group is sponsoring publication of the book.

Anyone interested in buying a book can email [email protected]

In The News

July 6, 2022 — Wilmington, DE — Catholic Charities’ Casa San Francisco was the grateful recipient of $9,700 from the Delaware Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) State Regent, Dr. Gloria Lester, as part of her State Regent’s Project, it was announced recently.

The Daughters of the American Revolution is a service organization whose membership is lineage-based.  Members are direct descents of patriots who provided support to the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War.  The mission of the organization is historic preservation, patriotism and education. Each State Regent selects a project to support during her three-year administration and may conduct various fundraisers for their chosen project. The donation was made possible through the generous contributions of the Delaware DAR members and the proceeds from the sale of the State Regent’s Starfish pins. Additionally, during the early days of the pandemic, the Delaware DAR made masks for Casa San Francisco and also donated goods and clothing.

Located in Milton, DE, Casa San Francisco (Casa) provides shelter for up to 12 adults for approximately 30 days in addition to a wide range of services aimed at helping low-income residents of Sussex County. Shelter residents work with case managers to obtain income and find affordable local housing opportunities. Last year, 58 persons found shelter at Casa San Francisco. Casa also operates the largest food assistance program in Sussex County, serving 12 sites throughout the county. Clients of Casa San Francisco are referred internally to Catholic Charities’ basic needs, immigration, and behavioral health programs for additional support services as needed.

Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, has been serving those in need for over 192 years, offering a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for children, assist the disadvantaged, and build human relationships throughout Delaware and the Easter Shore of Maryland

Kent County Nonprofits Awarded $322K in Grants

December 3, 2021 – The Delaware Community Foundation announced Friday it has awarded $322,100 in Potter Trust Grants to Kent County nonprofit organizations providing services ranging from emergency food and shelter to medical care for low-income children.

The grants were awarded from the Benjamin F. Potter Trust, which was created in 1843 and is one of the oldest continuing trusts of its type in the nation. The purpose of the Potter Trust is to aid the economically underprivileged in Kent County by supporting charitable organizations serving these individuals.

The CenDel Foundation, which brings expertise in needs in Kent County, serves as the grant recommendation committee. The Potter Trust grants target crisis/emergency assistance funding for basic needs, homelessness, hunger and health care. This year the committee also considered needs stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.

This year’s grantees are:

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, $46,500 for the New Street Initiative

Milford Housing Development Corporation, $46,500 for the MHDC Home Repair Program

First State Community Action Agency, $35,000 for basic needs/crisis assistance support

Catholic Charities – Diocese of Wilmington, $35,000 for homeless prevention service

Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, $30,000 for “A Closet for Kids”

YWCA Delaware Inc, $10,000 for the Survivors’ Emergency Needs Fund

Harry K Foundation, $25,600 to address food security for vulnerable children in Kent County

Green Beret Project, $25,000 to support basic needs for youth in Dover

Children’s Beach House, Inc, $5,500 for Youth Development Program Emergency Support

Caring Hearts Helping Hands, Inc., $6,000 for the Christmas/Holiday Program 2021

Hope Medical-Dental Clinic, Inc., $20,000 for dental care, women’s care, and outreach to homeless & low-income families

Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, $15,000 for housing & support services for low to moderate income Kent County families

Orchard Church Inc., $12,000 for Orchard Church Service Ministries

Code Purple Kent County, $10,000 for the Code Purple Rescue and Restore Program

News release courtesy of WBOC News, Photo courtesy of MGN Online

Bayard House received Federal Maternity Group Home Grant

November 17 – Wilmington DE – Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington has been awarded the Maternity Group Home Grant from the Department of Health and Human Services — Administration for Children and Families, according to a release issued by the agency.

Bayard House will use this three-year grant, worth $250,000 annually, to support pregnant and parenting youth, ages 16 to under 22 and their dependent children.

Bayard House is the only licensed residential program in Delaware serving homeless, pregnant, and newly parenting youth ages 16 to under 22 and their dependent children.

Delaware’s most recent point-in-time survey of the homeless population demonstrates the need for Bayard House’s services; a one-day snapshot revealed 42 homeless unaccompanied youth, 17 of whom were parents caring for 21 dependent children in Delaware.

The well-documented risks of teen childbearing to both mother and children, as well as the risks of homelessness during pregnancy and childhood, further demonstrate the necessity of Bayard House to serve Delaware.

Bayard House provides ten beds in a fully supervised maternity group home as well as supportive services to promote a successful transition to sustainable living and well-being for this population.

“Catholic Charities is very grateful to Delaware’s U.S. senators and representative, the governor of Delaware and mayor of Wilmington, who all supported our application,” said Fritz Jones, executive director of Catholic Charities. “We thank them for their enthusiastic endorsement of the work of Bayard House.”

Reprinted from The Dialog

Diocese of Wilmington Catholic Charities annual dinner returns with awards for Bishop Malooly, Michael J. Hare

By Mike Lang, Dialog reporter October 7, 2021 – Wilmington, DE – After a COVID-induced break of nearly 18 months, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Wilmington finally was able to gather a crowd together at the Chase Center on the Riverfront on Oct. 6 to honor both the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award for their work on behalf of the less fortunate.

Much has changed since Michael J. Hare was named the 2020 winner and Bishop Malooly the 2021 recipient. Hare, an executive with Buccini/Pollin Group, which helped build the Chase Center and other structures along the Wilmington riverfront, mentioned that his mother, Joan, died in February of this year, so she did not live to see him receive the award. And between the time Bishop Malooly was selected for the Msgr. Reese Award and the dinner where it was given out, the Diocese of Wilmington welcomed a new bishop.

Msgr. Steven Hurley, vicar general of the Diocese of Wilmington, introduced Bishop Malooly. All of us, he said, are lucky to have mentors, and Bishop Malooly was a mentor to him, as well as a good friend and example of leadership. Too often during his priestly ministry, the bishop’s assignment was to clean up messes made by other people. But he never complained.

“I never once witnessed him have a bad day,” Msgr. Hurley said. “He was always in a good mood.”

Msgr. Hurley said three attributes about Bishop Malooly stand out: his hope, patience and humility. The retired bishop always sees the best in others, and he doesn’t really enjoy being in the spotlight.

“I know he is uncomfortable right now,” Msgr. Hurley said. “You have been a wonderful example to all of us.”

With that, the crowd rose and gave Bishop Malooly an extended standing ovation.

Bishop Malooly’s remarks were short and focused on the work of others, not himself. He began by saying how happy he is that the diocese received Bishop Koenig, then shifted into praise for the work done by Catholic Charities. He mentioned its leadership, board of directors, employees and volunteers.

Of all the programs and facilities run by Charities, he said, Bayard House is his favorite. He said he loved to visit the home for expecting and new mothers and called it a shining example of pro-life ministry in the diocese.

The bishop also congratulated Hare, citing his tremendous influence on the city of Wilmington, St. Elizabeth Parish and Catholic education. He called Hare “an outstanding son” and said his mother.

Before turning the microphone over the Bishop Koenig, Bishop Malooly thanked Catholic Charities and the crowd “for the honor this evening. And I am embarrassed.”

Hare received his award before Bishop Malooly. He was introduced by longtime friend and fellow Archmere graduate Brian McGlinchey, who said Hare “literally sees the face of Christ in all of us.” His entire life, McGlinchey said, has been in service to others.

“He sees people in need and wants to make their lives better,” he said.

Hare said he grew up with a lot of role models and an inability to say no when institutions he believes in ask for help.

“I never accomplished anything in my life by myself. I’m standing here because of these people,” he said.

He noted that he wouldn’t have lived to see this night had it not been for two kidney transplants. The second of those occurred two years ago, and the donor, former Archmere principal John Jordan, was in attendance. Jordan and Hare graduated from Archmere a year apart.

Hare serves on the diocesan pastoral council and on the vocations admissions board for the diocese. He has been president of the St. Elizabeth parish council and chair of the annual Feast of St. Elizabeth celebration. The list of community organizations and schools with which he is involved is long. He also serves as executive vice president for development for the Buccini/Pollin Group and thanked Rob and Chris Buccini and their wives for coming to the dinner.

“This is a caring community, and I’m proud to be one small part of it,” he said.

Hare also praised Bishop Malooly and Bishop Koenig, who was standing several feet to Hare’s right during the ceremony. He told Bishop Koenig how impressive his ordination and installation Mass at St. Elizabeth Church was, then he mentioned that 10 days later he turned on a Philadelphia Phillies game against the New York Mets and saw the bishop – a Mets fan – sitting in the front row behind home plate.

Bishop Koenig later told the crowd that since both the Phillies and Mets missed the postseason, they could be “brothers” in that sense.

The bishop said it was a privilege to work with Bishop Malooly for the past few months.

“Thank you very much for your friendship and your support over these months,” he said.

He also praised the work of Catholic Charities and said he had been able to visit several of the sites it operates in Delaware and Maryland. He said the executive director, Fritz Jones, has been a wealth of knowledge as they travel to and from these locations. He said the work would not be possible without the employees and volunteers.

“As I met them, as I went around these past couple months, their dedication really is inspirational,” he said.

He also referred to that day’s Gospel reading about the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus teaches them the Our Father, which mentions the daily bread. Bishop Koenig thanked the benefactors “for sharing some of your bread with other people, people who are in need.”