By Msgr. Francis Henricksen
The Psalmist declares that “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if we are strong.” (Ps. 90) Father Harry Linnenbrink came up short of a couple of months of spending 79 years with us. Fr. Harry died peacefully a week ago last Wednesday after many years of non-communication.
Prior to his retirement nearly 12 years ago, he spent 40 years of active service in our diocese.
Fr. Harry was the last of the priests of our diocese to receive their education and formation at the Josephinum, the Pontifical College in Worthington, Ohio. He served as an assistant pastor in five parishes for the first 13 years of his priesthood. He had the privilege of being the first assistant to Father Kenny Martin in the founding of the new parish of Our Lady of Victory in Davenport.
As pastor, he was appointed to St. Mary Parish in Grinnell where he was named the dean of the recently formed deanery. From there, he enjoyed the final decade of his ministry in Iowa City. Fr. Harry became the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish and was also appointed as the Episcopal vicar of the Iowa City Vicariate. The vicariate was Bishop Gerald O’Keefe’s effort of implementing the concept of collegiality of the Second Vatican Council.
Added to his administrative gifts were his service to his brother priests for his long term as secretary/treasurer of the Priests’ Aid Society. He also served on the Presbyteral Council and Board of Education of the diocese. His gifts were freely shared through the service he rendered. Those gifts were in addition to his relaxed times as a pilot, on his motorcycle or with family and friends. He has been duly missed.
Confining as were his final years, Fr. Harry has come to know the life-freeing experience of death. Restored to the fullness of life, the high-priest, may he now know the reward and joy of full citizenship in the Kingdom. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”