April 30, 2021

Father Herman Lutz served in archdiocesan parishes, tribunal

By Sean Gallagher

Father Herman LutzFather Herman Lutz, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died on April 20 at the St. Paul Hermitage in Beech Grove. He was 88.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 26 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant of the liturgy. Father Robert Gilday, pastor of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower) Parish in Indianapolis was the homilist.

Burial followed in the priests’ circle at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Father Lutz ministered for many years in the archdiocesan metropolitan tribunal with retired Msgr. Frederick Easton, a former archdiocesan vicar judicial.

“He was a gentle soul,” Msgr. Easton recalled.

Ministry in canon law for Father Lutz, said Msg. Easton, “was a ministry of justice. He felt that he was helping people get justice in the Church regarding their marriage cases.”

At the same time, Msgr. Easton recalled Father Lutz’s love for parish ministry.

“Making sure that people had access to the sacraments and pastoral counseling was always important to him,” said Msgr. Easton. “He was a quintessential parish priest at heart, as well as being a tribunal priest.”

Father Gilday served with Father Lutz for many years in the tribunal. He, too, remembered how much his brother priest enjoyed parish ministry.

Whether he was serving in the tribunal or in faith communities across central and southern Indiana, Father Lutz took the same approach to ministry.

“His vocation as a priest was at the very center of it—the priestly identity,” said Father Gilday. “Whatever he was doing was ministry as a priest of the Church. Whatever assignment he had, he approached it that way.

“He was a priest who served his people. He was always pastoral in everything that he did.”

Herman George Lutz was born on Dec. 30, 1932, in Indianapolis to the late Herman John and Mary Catherine (Kieffer) Lutz. He grew up as a member of St. Anthony Parish on the west side of the city.

After graduating from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis in 1950, he worked for a short time in the insurance industry before enrolling as a student at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

After discerning a call to the priesthood, Father Lutz became an archdiocesan seminarian and received his initial priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad from 1953-55.

He then received priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College, earning a licentiate degree in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, both in Rome.

Father Lutz was ordained a priest on Dec. 20, 1958, by Archbishop Martin J. O’Connor, then rector of the North American College, in the seminary’s St. Marcellus Oratory and later celebrated his first Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

Father Lutz returned to Rome in 1961 for graduate studies, earning a licentiate degree in canon law in 1963 at the Pontifical Lateran University.

Except for his two years of graduate studies in Rome, Father Lutz served as a notary in the tribunal from 1959-84. During that time, he was assigned to several archdiocesan parishes.

His first pastoral assignment was as associate pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood from 1959-61.

After returning from his graduate studies, Father Lutz served as associate pastor of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield from 1963-68. In 1968, he served as the administrator pro-tem of St. Susanna.

He served as pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Parish in Danville from 1971-73 and as co-pastor of the former St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Indianapolis from 1973-76.

Father Lutz was in residence in Indianapolis at the former St. Bernadette Parish from 1976-78 and at Holy Spirit Parish from 1978-84.

From 1984-96, Father Lutz ministered as the pastor of the former St. Paul Parish in Sellersburg.

In 1993, he took up ministry again in canon law as a judge in the tribunal while continuing parish ministry.

From 1996-99, Father Lutz served as pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Indianapolis. His last assignment in parish ministry was as pastor from 1999-2003 of St. Mary Parish in North Vernon.

Although he retired from parish ministry in 2003, Father Lutz continued as a judge in the tribunal until 2009.

He is survived by a sister, JoAnn Traub of Indianapolis.

Memorial contributions can be made to the St. Paul Hermitage, 501 N. 17th St., Beech Grove, IN 46107. †

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