The Rev. John Kline, Pastor in S. Coventry

By Neill A. Borowski
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 7, 1996

The Rev. John L. Kline, 73, pastor of St. Thomas More Church in South Coventry, Chester County, died Friday after open-heart surgery at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Father Kline also was a faculty member for nearly 30 years at Roman Catholic High School, where he taught biology and art, and directed the school's marching band before retiring in 1981. An accomplished artist, his paintings adorned his rectory and a mural by him filled one wall of the rectory's waiting room.

He became ill on Christmas Eve, was rushed to Chester County Hospital, and was transferred to Hahnemann.

As pastor of St. Thomas More since 1982, Father Kline saw his parish more than double in size, said the Rev. John C. Wilz, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Phoenixville and a close friend. The church built a parish center and a parking lot under Father Kline's leadership, Father Wilz said.

"He was a wonderful artist," Father Wilz recalled. The two taught together at Roman Catholic and worked together on school plays. Father Wilz once directed Oklahoma! and Father Kline used his oils to paint a cornfield backdrop.

His sister, Cecilia Finley of North Hills, said Father Kline's interest in art was sparked by a teacher at St. Patrick Parochial School in Pottsville. He was born in Pottsville. During the Depression, he took art lessons from WPA artists, she said.

He also was a musician. "He walked in every parade," Finley said of his tenure as Roman Catholic's marching band director. When a fire at the school destroyed the band instruments, Father Kline "begged and borrowed" instruments from his friends to keep the band alive, Finley said.

He also liked to garden, said the Rev. George W. Leonhardt Jr., deacon at St. Thomas More. Father Kline maintained a flower and vegetable garden at the rectory.

Father Kline was ordained in 1949. He had served at Sacred Heart Church, Allentown; Our Mother of Mercy Chapel, Holmesburg; and St. Dominic Church, Philadelphia.

He was a graduate of Pottsville Catholic High School and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Also surviving are another sister, Dorothy McAvoy, and several nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be said by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua at St. Thomas More on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Burial will be at St. Aloysius New Cemetery/Priests Circle in Pottstown.

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