Father David J. Kriss was remembered by his brother priests as a kind person whose love of the priesthood only increased after his ordination 25 years ago.
Father Kriss, 51, pastor Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Donora, died Oct. 6, 2004, while traveling with a group of Pittsburgh priests to Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination. He collapsed before celebrating Mass at the seminary grotto and died immediately.
“I have known Father David Kriss for almost 30 years, and I often referred to him as ‘the ubiquitous Father Kriss’ because he was everywhere,” said Father John Rushofsky, director of the diocesan Department for Clergy Personnel and a seminary classmate of Father Kriss who was ordained with him on Sept. 29, 1979. “He loved to get around to various churches and enjoy the different services and functions they were having, He was especially interested in the Eastern-rite churches.”
“He truly was one of those rare people who never spoke unkindly about others, and there wasn’t a mean bone in his body. The last conversation we had, just before we left Oglebay last week, was about his upcoming 25th anniversary celebration. He had attended mine, and I was planning to attend his.”
In the 29 years that Father Robert J. Miller, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Pittsburgh’s Brookline neighborhood, knew Father Kriss, he said he “never heard this man say an unkind word about anyone.”
“His love for our Lord truly permeated every aspect of his life,” said Father Miller, who was with Father Kriss when he died at the seminary they both attended. “David’s love of being a priest never diminished. On the contrary, his energy and zeal for ministry has grown with the years.”
“When anyone thinks of David Kriss, the automatic action is to smile. He truly is a good and wonderful man.”
Father Kriss had served as pastor of Our Lady of the Valley since 1997. His younger brother, Father Aaron Kriss, was ordained to the priesthood in 1991 and is pastor of Holy Martyrs Parish in Tarentum.
Father David Kriss previously served as parochial vicar at St. Martin in Pittsburgh’s West End, St. Pius X, North American Martyrs in Monroeville and St. Clare of Assisi in Clairton. He was a Latin instructor at Providence Heights Alpha School in McCandless Township and chaplain at Serra Catholic High School. He recently was appointed religious education director for the Washington County East Deanery.
Fr. Kriss attended St. Adalbert School and Bishop’s Latin School. He studied at SS. Cyril & Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary and Duquesne University before completing his studies at Mount St. Mary.
“The priesthood is all that I expected and hoped for,” Father Kriss told the Pittsburgh Catholic upon the 25th anniversary of his ordination. “There is not one day that goes by that I have ever regretted my acceptance of God’s call – from 7 years of age on – to serve him and his church as a holy, happy, worthy and effective priest of Jesus Christ.”
He is survived by his mother, Florence; a sister, Ellen Walkowiak; brothers Mark and Father Aaron; and nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Oct. 12 by Bishop Donald Wuerl at St. Philip Neri Church of Our Lady of the Valley Parish.
Reprinted with permission from The Pittsburgh Catholic (Friday, October 15, 2004)
Fr. David J. Kriss
BLS Class of 1971
Rest in Peace.
Fr. Dave concelebrating Mass at Fr. Joe Henry's 75th Birthday Party
Fr. Dave concelebrating Mass with other Latin School Alumni
Fr. Dave in his freshman class photo at the Bishop's Latin School in 1967