Prayer, family, horses dot 60 years of history for St. Cloud priest

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

Every day for more than 60 years, Father Edwin Kraemer has prayed the prayers in his small red breviary. He often reads its careworn pages from a comfortable chair on the second floor sun porch of his Sauk Rapids home where he might also be found practicing a tune on the harmonica he learned to play in the fourth grade.

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Father Edwin Kraemer Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

Prayer is very important to Father Kraemer, who is celebrating 60 years as a priest in July, as is his family, who he credits for fostering his vocation.

“We were always surrounded by family, friends and many priests and religious,” he explained. “These were people who didn’t just believe in their Catholic faith, they lived it.”

He grew up in St. Cloud, the fourth of seven children. His parents owned and operated the Quality Dairy, where Father Kraemer says he learned a lot of life lessons.

They attended Mass daily and, he said, sometimes friends would ask him why he had to go to church every day.

“We always said we didn’t have to go, we wanted to go.”

The dairy still used horses to deliver milk when he was a kid, and he grew very fond of the animals. “I got a horse for a graduation gift instead of a watch,” Father Kraemer recalled.

At many of the parishes he served, he often had horses to tend. His first parish as pastor was St. Isidore in Moran, where he had a quarter horse palomino and a Welch pony.

When he left Moran to become pastor of St. Mary Parish in Chokio, he thought his horse-raising days were over so he donated the palomino to the St. Cloud Children’s Home for their horse therapy program and gave the pony to a parish trustee.

But his affinity for horses followed him to his next parish, St. Wendelin in Luxemburg.

“One thing I learned from the horses was patience,” Father Kraemer said, “a lot of patience.”

Father Kraemer also spent 19 years as the director of the Family Life Bureau, now called the Office of Marriage and Family.

Angie Loecken, a longtime employee of the office, and her family became close friends with Father Kraemer.

“Everyone loved Father Ed because he was genuine in his love for family and the church,” Loecken said. “He worked with many volunteer speakers and engaged couples during the years he served as family life director for the diocese. He often used humor, sometimes quoting from the cartoon ‘Family Circus’ to get his point across. He was able to relate to families and met them where they were. My family and I will always treasure our friendship with him.”

Father Kraemer’s favorite part of being a priest? He said there’s no question.

“Mass,” he said. “That’s what people expect me to say, but I really mean it. I became a priest because of the Eucharist. Everything else has to flow from that.”

Though retired from active ministry, he still celebrates Mass daily. He had a teacher, Benedictine Sister Coronata Schaeffer, in the second grade that helped develop his love for the Eucharist.

“She had a portable altar that she wheeled into the classroom with all the elements for celebrating Mass and took great care to explain the meaning of each,” he said. “You don’t forget those things.”

He also feels fortunate to have been ordained shortly after the Second Vatican Council and is excited about Pope Francis’ approach.

“It’s not radical,” he said, “Its just beautiful principles that the council laid out for us. It’s the Gospel we are supposed to be spreading. We’ve got to spread the joy of the Gospel.”

Father Kraemer will celebrate his 60th anniversary with his family this summer.