Father Ronald Dahlheimer dies

| March 3, 2017 | 1 Comment

Father Ronald Dahlheimer. Courtesy Steve Tompkins

Father Ronald Dahlheimer, a beekeeper and lover of classical music, died Feb. 26. He was 83.

A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he died at Northfield Hospital Long Term Care Center, where he spent the last two years.

He was born and raised on a family farm in Dayton and was a member of St. John the Baptist in Dayton. He was the middle child of Leonard and Aurelia Dahlheimer’s five children, and is survived by his only sister, Notre Dame Sister Corrine Dahlheimer. He attended the St. Paul Seminary and was ordained a priest Feb. 22, 1959, one year after Sister Corrine made her first vows.

“My brother always said to me that when he was growing up, the priesthood was ever before him,” said Sister Corrine, 78. “And, the professors at the seminary told my parents his faith was like a rock.”

He also was resourceful, which led to one of his hobbies.

“He was a beekeeper on the family farm,” Sister Corrine said. “Growing up, he financed the cost of his books at the seminary by extracting honey, bottling and labeling it. That paid for his books at the seminary. He was always after the beehives, and he was good at that.”

Father Dahlheimer also had a love for clasical music, which he expressed throughout his life. Sister Corrine said he bought kits to make both a harpsichord and a clavichord, instruments similar to the piano. And, he also played stringed instruments like the violin and guitar.

Father Dahlheimer, who retired from active ministry in 2004, served as pastor of St. Canice in Kilkenny from 1975 to 2004, then later served there from 2004-2008. Other parishes where he served include Maternity of Mary in St. Paul, St. Timothy in Blaine, St. Joseph in Rosemount, St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, St. Joseph in Lino Lakes and St. Henry in St. Henry.

“He was a family friend as well as our priest.,” said St. Canice parishioner Kim LeBrun, who got to know Father Dahlheimer shortly after she and her husband John were married at Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery in 1982. They started attending Mass at St. Canice shortly afterward, and joined the parish in 1984. Five of their six children were baptized by Father Dahlheimer, who made many visits to the LeBrun home during the years he served at St. Canice.

“We would get together at our home here and we would have meals on Sundays,” said Kim, 52. “Father would come after his Masses were done and join us, and for Christmas and Easter. He would always swing in and visit our family and share a meal with us. Probably 10 or more years, we would share this time with him. My kids grew up knowing Father Dahlheimer very well.

Kim called Father Dahlheimer “a very amazing, dedicated, holy priest” and said that whenever she or a family member would call him about a problem, “he would drop everything and say a Mass for your intention.”

A long-time friend, Father Michael Ince, pastor of Holy Trinity in Waterville who went to school with Father Dahlheimer at Nazareth Hall in the 1950s and later at the St. Paul Seminary, said, “Probably the greatest thing about him was his conscientious sense of helping people when it came to weddings, baptisms and stuff like that. He came to the sick and helped a lot of people.”

Father Ince stayed in touch with Father Dahlheimer by occasionally attending Friday night dinners with Father Dahlheimer’s long-time friend, Father Fred Meyer, who is spending his retirement in Le Sueur.

Though Father Dahlheimer often appeared quiet, his generosity toward others and the sacrifices he made for them spoke volumes, LeBrun said.

“He lived so frugally, and I know he did that because he was helping others out and doing things for others,” she said. “He kept his home frigid. In the winter, I don’t think he was over 50 degrees, ever. He was sacrificial. He sacrificed for all of us. I know that’s what he did. He didn’t eat well, and I think that’s why he enjoyed coming to a family for a meal. He just never did much for himself. He was very sacrificial — to me, saint material. This is what you hear of old that the saints would do. And, that’s the way Father was. He lived that way. He was amazing.”

Mass of Christian Burial is 11 a.m. March 4 at St. John the Baptist in Dayton, with a one-hour visitation in the church before Mass. Interment will be at St. John the Baptist Cemetery.


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