Retired priest dies of COVID-19; longtime friend anointed him in final days

| May 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

On May 14, Father James Herrmann became the first priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to die of COVID-19. He was 82.

Longtime friend Father Matthew Ehmke lived with Father Herrmann at St. Therese of New Hope for the last five years in an apartment they shared. In mid-April, Father Herrmann was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to be quarantined. Father Ehmke, however, was able to give Communion to his friend, and administer the sacrament of anointing of the sick days before he died.

“When they knew that he was dying, they let me visit him,” said Father Ehmke, 81, who met Father Herrmann when both were studying for the priesthood while members of the Crosiers. “(But) for a month, I had just telephone contact with Father Jim. It was really hard on him.”

When the two men met in the 1960s, they “just hit it off,” Father Ehmke recalled. Even though a year older, Father Herrmann, who grew up in Oregon, was a year behind Father Ehmke in the seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Father Herrmann was ordained in 1970 as a Crosier, and eventually was assigned to the Crosier Seminary in Onamia, where he served as business manager until the Minnesota preparatory school closed in 1989.

After a one-year assignment at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony as a pastoral assistant, Father Herrmann served at St. Stephen in Anoka from 1990 to 1995 before leaving for an assignment in Japan to be chaplain for an international school and for an order of sisters serving in Tokyo. He came back in 2005 and continued serving in the archdiocese, where he later was incardinated, becoming a priest of the archdiocese. He was assigned at St. Raphael in Crystal in 2007 and served there until his retirement in 2012.

Dates for Father Herrmann’s funeral Mass and burial have not been set. Both will take place in Oregon City, Oregon, where he was born.

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Category: Obituaries