Father Christopher was a noted confessor, spiritual mentor and author. His intense devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph was legendary. Many regarded Father Christopher as a saintly Capuchin friar and priest.
He was born March 9, 1917, to Bernard and Elizabeth (Thinnes) Rengers in Pittsburgh. He was baptized at the St. Joseph Church in Bloomfield (Pittsburgh).
Father Christopher is survived by his brother, Gerard Rengers of Evans City. He also leaves many nephews and nieces to mourn his passing.
He entered St. Fidelis Seminary in Herman in 1930. Father Christopher entered the Capuchin Order in 1936 and professed his first vows as a friar on July 14, 1937. He made his solemn profession three years later. Father Christopher was ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 1942.
Father's advanced education included philosophy studies at the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kan.; theology at the Capuchin College in Washington, D.C.; and psychology at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo.
Father Christopher wrote numerous published works, including two Lenten books; a biography of Jacinto Marto, who was one of the three children who were blessed to encounter the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima; "The Stations of the Cross for the Elderly"; and a very popular book, "The Thirty-Three Doctors of the Church." He wrote many articles that appeared in various periodicals. Even until a few days before his death, Father Christopher worked on various scholarly and devotional projects.
His first priestly assignment was as chaplain at Visitation Academy in St. Louis, Mo., from 1943 to 1945. His next appointment was teaching at St. Joseph Military Academy in Hays, Kan., and serving as pastor of the St. Severin Church near Hays. Father Christopher was transferred to Herndon, Kan., as parochial vicar of St. Patrick Church in Tully, Kan., and chaplain for Atwood Hospital in Atwood, Kan.
In 1950, Father Christopher was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Dover, Ohio, and in 1951 he became pastor of St. Patrick Church in Mineral City, Ohio. His ministry in Ohio ended in 1959.
For the next 16 years, Father Christopher labored at St. Charles Borromeo Church in St. Louis. He began his ministry in St. Louis as the Capuchin friars' promoter of vocations. In addition to his regular duties, Father Christopher helped the poor, elderly, immigrants and mentally disabled.
He founded The Capuchin Troupe, a group of amateur actors who performed Father Christopher's dramatic versions of the Passion of Christ and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The troupe performed in many parishes in Missouri and Illinois. In St. Louis, Father also began in earnest his ministry to promote devotion to St. Joseph, designing and promoting the St. Joseph Medal.
In 1975 Father Christopher was transferred to Capuchin College in Washington, D.C. In addition to his ongoing projects, in the nation's capital Father Christopher founded the Queen of the Americas Guild, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Twice each year he headed a pilgrimage to Mexico City and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Father Christopher was concerned about many social issues, including the right to life of the unborn. On Jan. 21, 1977, the night before the March for Life in Washington, D.C., he celebrated an evening Mass in the crypt church of the Basilica of the National Shrine. After Mass, Father Christopher and his small group of worshippers maintained a nightlong vigil. That unnoticed beginning has become a nationally televised Mass in the upper church of the Basilica, featuring Cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and an overflowing congregation. The all-night vigil is carried on by thousands of young people from around the country.
At the age of 87, Father Christopher's health necessitated close medical attention and he was assigned to St. Augustine Friary in Pittsburgh in 2004. Four years later, he took up residence at Vincentian Home, where he died.
RENGERS - Visitation and viewing for Father Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap, who died Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, will be from 2 to 4 and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the St. Augustine Friary, 221 36th St., Pittsburgh. A wake service will be at 7:30 p.m.
The Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Angels Church, formerly known as St. Augustine Church, 200 37th St. Burial will follow at the St. Augustine Cemetery.
I had the pleasure and the grace to visit Christopher during my Novitiate. He complimented me when I read from the Breviary, blessed us all each time we visited, and gave me encouragement when I told about my Epilepsy. I keep his Guadalupe prayer card in my room, and my rosary that he blessed has been put away.