ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Br. Karl Koenig, OFM, 80, a professed Franciscan friar for 56 years, died on Dec. 29 at Bon Secours Maria Manor Nursing Care Center. He spent the majority of his life ministering to the Hispanic community and to those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13 at St. Anthony Friary Chapel in St. Petersburg. Fr. Vincent Laviano, OFM, will preside at the Mass and Fr. Jud Weiksnar, OFM, will give the homily. Br. Karl’s cremains will be interred at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Clearwater, Florida.
Br. Karl was born on Sept. 16, 1941 to Karl and Margaret (née Hamilton) Koenig in Philadelphia. He attended Northeast High School and was received into the Catholic Church at that time; he was taking part in a post-high school horticulture apprenticeship when he learned about St. Francis’s connection to nature and applied to join the Franciscan Order.
Br. Karl was received into the brothers’ training school at St. Stephen’s Friary in Croghan, N.Y. in 1962 where he spent two years before being received into the Order of Friars Minor on July 14, 1964 at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, New Jersey. He professed first vows there one year later. Following his novitiate, he was assigned for further training at St. Francis College, in Rye Beach, New Hampshire.
While still in formation, he volunteered to join Holy Name Province’s mission in Peru and arrived in the country in 1968, completing his training at Holy Name Parish in Lima. He professed solemn vows there on July 25, 1969 before Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM.
Br. Karl served in Peru for ten years, where he began an outreach to locals working as domestic help, organizing them into a community and providing them with an education. He returned to the United States in 1979 and was assigned to St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, New Jersey, where he gave retreats and led Alcoholic Anonymous workshops. He also co-coordinated the local diocese’s Hispanic apostolate, a position he held until 1981. One year later, he began working with the diocese’s drug and alcohol abuse treatment program.
He then spent 28 years living outside of Franciscan community life, working with a federal medical program in the Philadelphia area, doing outreach to Hispanics with alcohol and drug addiction, and working with HIV patients. He returned to the Franciscans in 2010 and was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, New Jersey, where he ministered to the Hispanic community.
Due to health reasons, Br. Karl retired from full-time ministry in 2017 and moved to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg.
He is survived by his sister, Nancy Smith of Moorestown, New Jersey; a brother, Michael Koenig of Palm Bay, Florida; a cousin, Jane Paulishak of Sarasota, Florida; and several nieces.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
- “Jubilarian Profile: Karl Koenig Marks 50 Years Since Profession” – April 29, 2015, HNP Today
- “Forever Loved: Grief Ministries Offer Hope for Advent, Christmas” – Dec. 12, 2014, HNP Today
- “Religious Brothers Day Highlights Workers” – May 11, 2020, HNP Today