By BECKY MALEWITZ
The Rev. Terry Klein was ordained a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City July 14, 1984. Twenty-nine years later, on the anniversary of his ordination, he found himself in front of the congregation at St. Dominic Parish in Garden City, where he will serve as parochial administrator until Nov. 4.
An Ellinwood native, Klein, now an incardinated priest of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, came to St. Dominic earlier this month after spending the last 24 years in teaching ministry, most recently as professor and chair of the Department of Theology at St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, N.Y. In addition to teaching, Klein also has published several books.
"I just decided I wanted to be closer to home and friends, so I asked permission to serve in the Diocese," Klein said, adding that he was leaving for a family reunion in just a few days.
In addition to his immediate family in Kansas, Klein is finding genealogical connections with a lot of his parishioners.
"I'm related to most of the Catholics in western Kansas because my family is Volga German. A lot of the people here are from the Ellis and Rush county areas," he said, noting that he is most likely third or fourth cousins with most of those old German Catholics in western Kansas.
Moving from academic life to being in charge of a parish with an elementary school is a change for Klein.
"I'm really just caretaking (St. Dominic) between pastors. In that sense, I am just responding to the needs that are placed in front of me, and that seems to be every four minutes," he said. "It is such an adjustment. I am just so used to my books and meetings. Since I've been here, I pretty much just answer phone calls."
Klein has been busy since his move to Garden City and has yet to get to know the area, but he is quickly becoming acquainted with the people of St. Dominic Parish.
"... I haven't had a chance to see a lot of Garden City. Now, the Parish has very enthusiastic people, very talented people, very generous people, I mean financially generous, too, but they are also very generous with their time. I'm just impressed with how receptive and enthusiastic they are. There seem to be a lot of vocation prospects in this parish, which is kind of unusual, and actually as many women as men looking into religious life," he said.
With St. Dominic Parish also having an elementary school, Klein is looking forward to the school year starting.
"I really like schools. I'm very anxious to do thkind of work," he said.
As for what happens to Klein after he leaves St. Dominic in November, "Nobody really knows," he said.