Twin Brothers as Co-Pastors in Missouri Parish Confuses Many
By Estelle Lammers
HC News Service via The Catholic News Archive
December 5, 1972
Only the cat knows for sure. The cat is named Mitzie. She is the pet of Fathers Stephen and Severin Lamping, identical twins serving as pastor and co-pastor at the Resurrection Parish here.
The animal is the only one who can confidently tell the men apart.
"Mitzie is the only one wo can't fool," said Father Stephen.
"Yes, Mitzie, will never come to me," said Father Severin.
The twin priests, born Jan. 1, 1901 in Cincinnati, had served in such diverse locales as Europe, Ohio and Kansas before coming to the Jefferson City diocese for pastoral work.
Their experiences are reflections of their travels, including run-ins with Hitler's Gestapo and publication of several books on conversion.
They attended grade school in Cincinnati and completed minor seminary studies there. However, the twins, along with their three sisters, were taken to Damme, Germany, by their parents —who were immigrants—for settlement of an estate.
The twins then attended St. Lodewijck College in Vlodrop, the Netherlands, the Franciscan Academy at Dorston, Germany, and the Franciscan Academy of Theology in Paderborn, Germany.
On March 16, 1929, they were ordained in the historic cathedral of Paderborn and afterwards engaged in youth work and conducted retreats for the Young Christian Workers in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
"In 1935, we were run out of Germany by the Gestapo because or our outspoken opposition to Hitler," said Father Severin.
That year they had published a book on converts, "Menschen De Die Zur Kirche Kamen," and wrote articles for various Catholic magazines. Father Stephen said their writings were confiscated by the Gestapo and the police came to arrest them.
"However, we had just left for Italy on our way bade to to the United States," Father Stephen said.
In the United States, Father Severin taught at a Cincinnati high school, became associate editor of the St. Anthony Messenger, editor of the Sodalist and Herz Jesu Sendbote, and was director of the local Catholic Kolping Society, one of the largest youth organizations in the world. He later became the society's national president.
Meanwhile, Father Stephen engaged in pastoral work and served as pastor of parishes in Eraporia and Olpe, Kan.
It was during this period that they wrote a booklet on the menace of nazism, 100,000 copies of which were distributed by a Jewish group, and wrote another book on modern converts, "Through Hundred Gates," which was published in the Religion and Culture Series of the University of St. Loui3 in 1938. The book was translated into five languages.
However, said Father Severin, he was always interested in pastoral work. So, in 1955, he was made pastor of a Kansas City, Ho., parish. Two years later, he and his brother joined the newly formed diocese of Jefferson City.
Father Stephen was named pastor at Wellsville, where he has remained. Father Severin was given a variety of assignments before becoming co-pastor at Wellsville in 1970.
"We have been happy working in rural parishes," said Father Stephen. "Everyone knows everyone else."
He added that he and his twin were still interested in convert work—having received about 45 persons into the Church in Wellsville. And they still confuse people about their identities.
Father Severin noted that he was a patient in a hospital recently and was visited by his brother. When nurse saw Father Stephen walking down the hall, she thought it was Father Severin and exclaimed, "You shouldn't be walking around."
Mitzie the cat would have known for sure