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Father Lawrence Voelker, the pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis since 1996, died on June 13 at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove. He was 69.
The wake service was scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 17 at Holy Cross Church, 125 N. Oriental St., where he received the sacraments of baptism, First Communion and confirmation during his childhood.
An hour of calling at 10 a.m. on June 18 concluded with the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at Holy Cross Church.
Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel, vicar general, was the principal celebrant.
Father Jim Farrell, the director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, was the homilist.
Burial was at the Priests’ Circle at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.
“I think Father Larry embraced his vocation as a disciple first and foremost,” Father Farrell said on June 14. “He was deeply in love with Jesus. He worked throughout his life to listen to the voice of Jesus and to respond to it.”
Father Voelker was a gifted pastoral minister and spiritual director, Father Farrell said. “He was serious about drawing closer to God. I think that’s why he touched so many people’s lives and so many of us were drawn to him. … We saw a genuine priest, a genuine disciple, who gave himself over completely to God.”
Nine years ago, Father Voelker miraculously survived a lengthy, life-threatening illness.
“When he was in the hospital for so long, I know that was a life-changing experience for him, an experience where he came through it realizing that the hand of God was on him during his illness and he obviously was brought through it for a purpose,” Father Farrell said. “I think he tried to live his life faithful to the God who had brought him through that [near-death] experience.”
Paintings depicting the “Peaceable Kingdom” described in Isaiah 11:6-9, which was one of his favorite Scripture passages, decorated his office walls.
During a “Faithful Fathers” interview published in The Criterion on Nov. 20, 2009, Father Voelker said, “When God comes into our life, things that often don’t seem to fit together can be at peace together, like the lion and the lamb.”
He also ministered to the offenders incarcerated at the nearby Indiana Women’s Prison, and helped with poverty-relief efforts that included Habitat for Humanity, the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Food Pantry, Caulk of the Town, the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis, and several other neighborhood social service programs.
“He was about building a kingdom of peace and justice,” Father Farrell said, “… where everyone is welcome, people are valued for the fact that they are children of God and the dignity of every life is respected.”
Father Voelker, who was a recovering alcoholic, also served as the archdiocesan coordinator of Substance Abuse Ministry with assistance from Deacon William Jones, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus.
Lawrence William Voelker was born on July 5, 1940, to Frank J. and Nora C. (Rush) Voelker, who were members of Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis.
He attended Holy Cross School then graduated from the former Saint Meinrad High School and former Saint Meinrad College in southern Indiana. He completed his studies for the priesthood at the Theological College of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind.
On May 1, 1966, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Paul C. Schulte at Saint Meinrad Archabbey’s Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln.
Father Voelker celebrated his first Mass on May 8, 1966, at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Beech Grove.
On May 16, 1966, he was appointed a full-time instructor at the Bishop Bruté Latin School inIndianapolis.
Father Voelker received his first parish assignment on May 23, 1967, as associate pastor of the former Assumption Parish in Indianapolis while continuing as a full-time instructor at the Latin School.
On June 1, 1968, he was named associate pastor of the former St. James the Greater Parish in Indianapolis.
His next assignment on June 23, 1971, was as associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis.
On Nov. 2, 1973, he was appointed the archdiocesan coordinator of the Indiana Catholic Conference, the lobbying agency for the Church in Indiana.
He received his first pastorate on Aug. 16, 1974, at St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville while continuing to serve as the archdiocesan coordinator of the Indiana Catholic Conference, with residence at St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.
On July 7, 1976, Father Voelker was named the director of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese while continuing to serve as the archdiocesan coordinator of the Indiana Catholic Conference.
On July 30, 1980, he was named the administrator of St. Martin Parish in Yorkville, with residence at St. Matthew Parish in Indianapolis then at Holy Trinity Parish in Indianapolis, while continuing as the archdiocesan director of Catholic Charities.
On July 6, 1983, Father Voelker was named the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.
Four years later, on July 8, 1987, he was appointed the pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove.
Father Voelker began his pastorate at Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis on May 9, 1996, and also served as the sacramental minister of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.
From July 1, 1998, to Sept. 2, 1998, he also served as the administrator of St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis.
On July 1, 1999, Father Voelker was named the sacramental minister and priest moderator of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis while continuing as the pastor of Holy Cross Parish.
He was named the pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis on June 14, 2000, for a six-year term while continuing as pastor of Holy Cross Parish.
On May 9, 2002, Father Voelker was reappointed the pastor of Holy Cross Parish for a second six-year term while serving as the pastor of St. Patrick Parish.
On Jan. 7, 2004, he was named the director of spiritual formation for the archdiocesan Office of Deacon Formation while serving as the pastor of Holy Cross Parish.
Four years later, on May 9, 2008, he was reappointed the pastor of Holy Cross Parish for an additional six-year term.
Surviving are a sister, Beverly Green of Indianapolis, as well as several nieces and nephews.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Holy Cross Parish, 125 N. Oriental St., Indianapolis, IN 46202. †