Country’s oldest, longest ordained priest dead at 104

(Saint Catherine Laboure Parish)
(Saint Catherine Laboure Parish)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Monsignor Vincent Topper died Friday morning at the age of 104.

Topper, of the Saint Catherine Laboure Parish on Derry Street in Harrisburg, was the oldest and longest ordained priest in the country.

“Monsignor was a real shining example of his faith and of the catholic faith,” Joe Aponick, the director of communications of the Diocese of Harrisburg, said.

This year marked Topper’s 80th anniversary of ordination, according to the parish.

“His life was a shining example of fidelity and cooperation with God’s grace in a selfless and dedicated manner,” Bishop Ronald Gainer said of Msgr. Topper. “He has seen and personally experienced so much in his lifetime,” the bishop remarked. “Throughout the many changes in our Church and culture that he has experienced, he maintained amazing fidelity and flexibility to continue to be what Christ called him to be and to what he said yes to so many years ago, to be a Priest of Jesus Christ.”

“Priests retire, formally retire, in about their mid-70’s depending on their age and that but he was in residence. And he would still celebrate mass for people and do the sacraments,” Aponick said.

Topper was born in Hanover on July 28, 1912. A parish priest baptized him that day, not expecting him to live due to tuberculosis.

There will be a viewing next Friday starting at 4:30 p.m. at Saint Catherine Laboure Church and another the next morning at 8:30 a.m. until Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m.

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