Father Lachner remembered for intelligence, meeting celebrity singer

| December 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Father Anton Lachner, third from right, poses with Scottish singer Susan Boyle, third from left, at the Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family Residence May 5, 2016, along with, from left, Sister Marguerite Burke, staff member Amber Decheine, Sister Mary Chantal Hargan, staff member Amy Egan and Sister Amy Kristine Kaiser. Courtesy Little Sisters of the Poor

Father Anton Lachner experienced great suffering the last eight years of his life, his family said, after having a series of strokes, the first of which he experienced after retiring at age 70 in 2009.

A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Lachner died Dec. 21 at the Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family Residence in St. Paul. He was 78.

It was there that he encountered an international celebrity who lifted his spirits and helped ease his suffering.

On May 5, 2016, Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who launched her career by performing on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009, visited the Holy Family Residence while in the Twin Cities for a concert.

Father Lachner was supposed to go to the concert with family members, but he got sick. So, the concert was brought to him. A staff member got in touch with someone on Boyle’s staff and arranged for a visit.
What took place after her arrival was something one Holy Family Residence staff member called a miracle.

Susan Boyle spends a few moments with Father Anton Lachner during her visit.

“When we got into Father’s room, she [Boyle] approached Father and started sobbing,” said Mother Maria Francis Pale, provincial superior. “And, Susan went straight on her knees, and Father prayed over her. … Then she started singing, ‘[Somewhere] Over the Rainbow’ in his room. I tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”

Father Lachner moved to the Holy Family Residence in September 2011. Though the strokes affected him, Mother Maria Francis said his mind was still sharp, and she was amazed at the details he could remember.

“He was a very intelligent man,” she said. “He had such a mind, so brilliant.”

His brother, Phil Lachner, made similar statements, and remembered a call to the priesthood that began in childhood for Father Lachner, who was ordained Oct. 3, 1968. He served until 1977, when he left the priesthood. He was reinstated in 2005 and served until his retirement in 2009.

“When he was probably 8 or 9 years old, he’d want to play church,” Phil recalled. “The way he did that is he’d be the priest and he’d give us candy for Communion. That’s how he got us to play.”

His first assignment after ordination was at St. Margaret Mary in Golden Valley. He then served on the faculty at the University of St. Thomas from 1969-74. For three years before leaving the priesthood, he attended graduate school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

“He was so kind and compassionate,” said Judy Johnson, one of Father Lachner’s eight siblings. “He was always there. I could always count on him. We were there for each other. … He was a really good guy.”

The funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Dec. 26 at the Little Sisters Holy Family Residence, with visitation at 9:30. Interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights.


Category: Obituaries