Monsignor Henry F. Zerhusen, 78, priest in Baltimore area for 50 years

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

August 12, 2003

By Stephanie Desmon

Monsignor Henry F. Zerhusen, a beloved priest in the Baltimore area for 50 years, died of undetermined causes Saturday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium after several years of failing health. He was 78.

“He never said no to people,” said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester. “He was one of the most widely respected priests in the whole diocese.”

Born in Baltimore, Monsignor Zerhusen was a regular churchgoer from childhood but did not plan for a life in the priesthood. He graduated from Annapolis High School in 1942 and entered the Navy. After World War II, he attended Loyola College, graduating with a degree in accounting in 1947.

Then he entered St. Mary’s Seminary and University School of Theology and Ecumenical Institute, located at the time on Paca Street, and later was awarded his licentiate from Catholic University of America in Washington in 1953. He was ordained May 30 of that year by Archbishop Francis Keough in the Basilica of the Assumption.

That summer, he served as assistant pastor at St. Martin Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore and a few months later received his first permanent assignment at St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Roman Catholic Church in Rosedale, where he remained for nearly a decade.

After serving as assistant at Our Lady Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Middle River for four years, he was appointed pastor at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore and remained for 19 years.

In 1987, he became pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Gardenville, and while there was awarded the title of monsignor. He was senior priest at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Catonsville from 1995 until retiring in 2000.

“He was an extremely gentle, caring and most generous priest,” said the Rev. Christopher Whatley, pastor of St. Mark. “He gave away everything and anything he had to those in need. I mean that.”

Father Whatley recalled when he returned to St. Mark after a late Orioles game and noticed someone behind the garbage cans. He asked what the man needed and was told he was just picking up something that had been left for him by “Father Henry.” It turned out, Father Whatley learned, that Monsignor Zerhusen had various drop-off sites on the rectory property where he left cash for people who called him in need.

“The priests themselves would refer to him as a super-priest,” said Monsignor Zerhusen’s brother, Clarence E. Zerhusen of Timonium.

George Yorkman, assistant director of St. Ambrose Family Outreach Center, recalled when he was a young boy at St. Ambrose Church and Monsignor Zerhusen was the priest.

“You don’t find his breed of priests anymore,” Mr. Yorkman said. “I’ve never met a priest quite like him in my lifetime. He represented the old school of priests. You could come to him with anything and know he’d give you sound advice.”

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mark, 30 Melvin Ave.

In addition to his brother, Monsignor Zerhusen is survived by four nieces and nephews and 10 great-nieces and great-nephews.