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Obituary: Father Cyprian Berens OFM

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Father Cyprian Berens, OFM, died this morning, May 13, 2019 at age 95 serving over 75 years as a Franciscan friar.  His body will be received at 10 a.m. Friday, May 17, in the chapel at Leibold Home, 476 Riddle Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45220. Following a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m., Fr. Berens will be laid to rest at St. Mary Cemetery in St. Bernard. Memorials may be sent to the Franciscans c/o Friar Works, 1615 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.

For more about Father Cyprian, here’s an article that was in The Catholic Telegraph in November, 2012 from Sister Eileen Connelly:

Franciscan Father Cyprian Berens, 88, may be officially retired from active ministry, but as a friar of the Cincinnati-based St. John the Baptist Province are  finding ways to share the spirit of St. Francis and reach out to other residents at St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged.

Their whole lives, in fact, have been a testament to the Franciscan founder. Like St. Francis, they have found great joy in living the Gospel and inspiring others to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

A native of Terrace Park, Father Berens was one of four children and grew up in St. Andrew Parish in Milford. He went on to attend the then-Purcell and later Roger Bacon High School, where he first encountered the Franciscans. “They struck me as very available men. I was a young punk, but I mattered to them,” he recalled. “I also read a biography of Francis and thought it sounded more Christian to me than anything else I’d heard.”

With the support of his parents, whom he credits with “maintaining their faith in the tough times of the depression,” Father Berens attended St. Francis Seminary, studied philosophy at Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Mich., and theology in Oldenburg, Ind. He was ordained in 1951.

His ministry initially took Father Berens to central Illinois, where he served as an associate pastor in various parishes. From there, he was assigned to the order’s General Curia in Rome as assistant treasurer and secretary. Next came ministry in formation in the province, followed by another stint in Rome. Over the years, Father Berens also served as head of St. Bonaventure College, a Franciscan institution in Florence, Italy, director of communications for the St. John the Baptist Province, and as the apostolic penitentiary, or confessor, at St. John Lateran Cathedral in Rome.

Reflecting on his ministry over the years, Father Berens, said, “Obedience sometimes means you go kicking and screaming into something and it turns out wonderfully because of God’s hand in it.”

He was assigned to the Archbishop Leibold Home as chaplain in 2003, where his duties included conducting an annual retreat for the residents and administering the sacraments. The relationships he has developed at the home have been a “blessing,’ Father Berens said.

“The residents have led such interesting lives and have such wonderful stories to tell. The whole spirit of the place is very uplifting and caring. The spirit of the Sisters (the Little Sisters of the Poor who operate the home), who are so happy and gentle and their foundress (St. Jeanne Jugan), and the dedication of the employees ensures that the residents are treated with infinite patience and kindness.”

Father Berens celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Oct. 26, 2011, during Mass at the home. During his homily, he reflected on what the life of priest is like, with the final thought that it is a happy life, one that as a Franciscan, has been spent “living the Gospel and living simply.” After Mass, the home held a special luncheon in Father Berens’ honor.

He retired effective July 1, but continues to preside at Mass and hear confessions by appointment. Father Berens is a cheerful presence as he tools around the home on his scooter, greeting residents and employees with a smile and word of encouragement.

“Retirement is working out very well for me,” he said. “I’m doing reading I’ve been wanting to do and going on field trips with the residents.”

Father Cyprian Berens (Courtesy Photo)
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