domingo, mayo 23, 2010

Bishop Juergen W. Bless, the leader of St. Thaddeus Jude, California, US


Juergen W. Bless March 5, 1942 — April 5, 2010: Humble, intelligent, honest

Bishop Juergen W. Bless, the leader of St. Thaddeus Jude, Old Catholic Church in Huntington Beach for more than 30 years, has died. He was 68. Bless died of a heart attack Monday, a church member said. Bless has been with the church in Old World Village since its inception and gave the church its first blessing. The German native oversaw both Lutheran and Old Catholic services in Huntington Beach, two other congregations, and ordained numerous church members.

“He was a very humble man, a very intelligent man, a very honest person — he had a good heart,” said Lupe Gil, his personal assistant for more than six years. War brought Bless to religion and gave him his first inspiration to become a priest.

Bless was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1942 and through the chaos of war ended up in a Franciscan Monastery in Munich for several years where he first felt the calling of the church, according to his biography. He eventually reunited with his mother and they moved to Maryland in 1955.

Bless stayed active in the church and became a leader of the Lutheran Youth Movement. He later joined the Navy, although a conscientious objector, and served as a hospital corpsman. While in the military, his brother died of leukemia and Bless used the event to dedicate his life to the church. He began taking seminary classes while still in the Navy and volunteered with the military chaplain.

Bless studied theology at several top universities and was ordained a pastor in 1969 and a bishop in the late 1980s. Bless moved to Southern California to serve the German-speaking community in need of a pastor and went on to serve the German American community in area. About 200 church members attended a private service Thursday and more than 300 attended an open service Friday morning, Gil said.

“He’s going to be missed very dearly,” Gil said. He is survived by his wife, Karen Bless; sons Andreas J. Bless and Wolff Dieter Bless; daughter-in-law Anna Bless; granddaughter Wilhelmina Bless; and a grandson on the way. Bless will also be honored at noon Sunday at Old World Village Church, 7561 Center Ave.

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