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April 21, 2019

Rev. Charles J. Kraus Dies at 75; Almost Reached 50th Year as Priest
by Francesca Norsen (, published online 06-02-2008
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Rev. Charles J. Kraus, pastor emeritus of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Brooklyn Heights, died Sunday, May 25, at Long Island College Hospital. He was 75 years old and would have marked his 50th year as a priest on May 31.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the main celebrant of a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, May 28. Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello preached the homily. Special concelebrants included Msgr. Alfred P. LoPinto, current administrator at St. Charles, and Father Thaddeus (“Ted”) Grzelak, who served as parochial vicar at St. Charles from 1995 until last year.

A native of Brooklyn, Father Kraus was baptized in St. Rose of Lima Church, Parkville. He attended Cathedral College and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. Before being assigned to churches in Brooklyn, Fr. Kraus served the early part of his ministry in Queens parishes. Starting the year of his ordination, he served as an assistant at St. Camillus, Rockaway Beach. He served at St. Leo parish in Corona from 1961-70, St. Aloysius, Ridgewood from 1970-73 and St. Helen in Howard Beach during 1973-74. He then returned to Brooklyn and served Our Lady of Angels, Bay Ridge from 1974-88.

Fr. Kraus was named administrator of St. Charles Borromeo in 1988, succeeding Msgr. Francis Murphy after Msgr. Murphy was seriously injured in a subway attack. Father Kraus was named pastor at St. Charles in 1990. He retired in 2007 and remained in residence at St. Charles Borromeo. Msgr. Vincent Keane, who knew Father Kraus since their student days together at Cathedral Prep on Washington Ave. in 1946 and during seminary in Huntington, recalls that Fr. Kraus was a very aggressive basketball player. He also had great speed whenever he went out for a pass during football games. Throughout his life, he gave his all to whatever he did. In seminary, they sat next to each other in chapel for six years.

After more than 40 years Fr. Kraus is still remembered in the Rockaways as a dedicated worker and for his “quiet service. His theme was ‘Jesus does the work, not me’,” Msgr. Keane said. To his friends, Father Kraus gave “great support and encouragement,” Msgr. Keane added. “He was an inspiration.” Indeed, Fr. Ted Grzelak recalled during a phone interview that, although Fr. Kraus sometimes exhibited a very-human gruffness, he was also compassionate and keenly observant. When Fr. Ted’s mother died, Fr. Kraus told him not to worry about the Masses he was scheduled to celebrate. “Just go home. We’ll take care of everything.” Fr. Ted said that his colleague found ways to lift up Fr. Ted during his time of grief. “He gave me a very encouraging look that said don’t be sad. Coming from him, along with his measured words, these meant a lot and are moments that I can always remember.”

Fr. Ted added that he went back to St. Charles to concelebrate the Mass and honor Fr. Kraus “because of his dedication to the priesthood. Fr. Kraus was at St. Charles longer than any other priest in the parish. He took pride in the parish. Even his license plate read ‘St. Chas!’”

Frank Composto, a past president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, Kings County, was traveling as this edition went to press on May 30. At the time of Fr. Kraus’ retirement last June, Composto had said in a phone interview, “As one of the leaders of the Catholic Lawyers Guild in Brooklyn, I have come to know Father Kraus very well. He has always been a great supporter of the Catholic Lawyers Guild and has welcomed us every year for our celebration of the Red Mass, where all the lawyers and judges get together for blessings at the beginning of the judicial year.”

Even during his illness, Father Kraus is remembered for being able to “laugh and move on.” When a fellow classmate, Father Jerome Nadine, visited him in the hospital recently, Father Kraus said he realized he wasn’t well, “but before God I’m ready.” Msgr. Keane said that his friend’s legacy is that in his final illness he was at peace and trusted in God.

Father Kraus is survived by his sister Jessica Datin of Lompoc, Calif.; and three brothers, Roger of Belle Harbor, David of West Islip and Richard of Manhattan. Burial was in Green-Wood Cemetery, Sunset Park.

— Francesca Norsen Tate With biographical material from The Tablet Catholic diocesan newspaper.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008
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