Father Victor Koch, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1873-1955)

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Born Nicholas Koch on May 26, 1873 in Hermitage, Pennsylvania he was the son of Nicholas Koch and Victoria Elser who were German immigrant farmers. In April 1889 three Passionist priests conducted a parish mission in Hermitage. Some time later he entered the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, Dunkirk, New York. On December 2, 1890 he professed his vows and received the name Victor. He was ordained a priest on September 19, 1896. Father Koch was a missionary, pastor, and religious superior. He was a curate priest at the Passionist parishes in Cincinnati, Ohio and West Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1905 he became pastor at the Passionist parish at St. Paul’s, Kansas. From 1914 to 1920 he was pastor at St. Joseph’s Monastery parish, Baltimore, Maryland where he built an addition to the parish school and served the people during the flu epidemic. After Baltimore he became Rector of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Father Koch was chosen, along with Father Valentine Lehnerd, C.P. to go to our Passionist foundation in Germany and Austria in June 1922. Later Father Leopold Snyder, C.P. joined the mission. Early problems included a lack of housing and lack of finances due to inflation. It was through Vicar General Buchberger that a home was found in Munich, Germany. Cardinal Piffl of Vienna proved helpful to Father Koch in Austria in the effort to establish Maria Schutz. Sometime later a foundation at Schwarzenfeld, Germany was built. In 1934 Adolf Hitler began his quest for power in Germany which led to restrictions against Catholics. Two priests fled the country from the Gestapo and non-German priests could not exercise public ministry. Some foreign priests left Germany and some German students were inducted into the military. In 1941 Father Lehnerd died. Still Father Koch remained in Germany for four years even when Father Paul was arrested in 1944. After World War II ended Father Koch returned to the United States to raise money for the financially strapped Passionist mission and from 1950 to 1953 he served as an auxiliary chaplain to United States military and their family during the occupation.

For more information see www.viktorkoch.com maintained by Fr. Viktor’s grandnephew Gary, and great-grandniece Katherine.

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