Gilbert Krenson remembered for love and support of his family


A memorial service for Richard Gilbert Krenson, husband of Ann Krenson, the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Nashville, and father of Deacon John Krenson, was held on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Mr. Krenson died on Jan. 28, 2021. He was 91 years old. 

“Gilbert achieved three things so many strive for,” recalled his family. “He was devoted to and adored his wife of nearly 60 years, and she adored him back; he raised three sons who loved and respected him; and he provided well for all of them.” 

Mr. Krenson was born on Aug. 19, 1929 in Atlanta. His family moved to Nashville in 1934. He graduated from Father Ryan High School, St. Bernard Junior College in Alabama, and received his bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. 

In January 1951, Mr. Krenson enlisted to serve four years in the U.S. Air Force. While in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1952 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and volunteered to serve duty at the radar base at Cape Lisburne, 170 miles north of the Arctic Circle and the first and western-most part of the Distant Early Warning Line. In 1954, his father, who was suffering with terminal cancer, received a letter from the Dow Air Force Base, Maine, Commanding Officer that Mr. Krenson had received the “Outstanding Airman” Award of his Squadron for the past six-month period. 

After his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Mr. Krenson worked at Ford Motor Co.’s Nashville Glass Plant, retiring as a financial analyst. He enjoyed gardening, bowling, tennis and golf. He was elected Tennessee State President of the Senior Catholic Youth Organization for one year, was a Cub Master for two years, a Junior Achievement business advisor, and a Mass lector for 12 years at the Cathedral of the Incarnation and Christ the King churches.  

Mr. Krenson volunteered at Saint Thomas Hospital, Room in the Inn, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, the Metro Adult Literacy Program, and served on the Davidson County Grand Jury. He and his family did two two-week Appalachian Missions. He received an American Red Cross “Thank You” certificate for his lifetime donation of more than 10 gallons of blood.  

After retirement, Mr. Krenson worked five years part-time as Tuition and Finance Officer for St. Ann Church and School. During retirement he enjoyed family time with his children and grandchildren, built six Adirondack chairs, lawn furniture, a gazebo and a Koi water garden and deck.  

Mr. Krenson was preceded in death by his parents, James Robert Krenson and Mittie Lahatte Krenson; his brother James Robert Krenson Jr. and his sister Patsy Hibbett.  

Survivors include his beloved wife, Ann Krenson; children Eddie (Martha), John (Carrie), and Jay; five grandchildren, Jennifer (Adam) Thompson, Jason Krenson, Constance (John) Hill, Dasha Krenson and Evan Krenson; nine great-grandchildren, Anna, Sarah, Nathan, Mary and Rebecca Thompson, Caitlin and Landon Krenson, and Savannah and Wyatt Hill; his sister Mickey Beazley; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

The family expressed their gratitude to the Alive Hospice staff, residents and staff of St. Paul Senior Living Community, and to Mr. Krenson’s many friends and relatives for their love and support.  

Memorial contributions can be made to the Pinson Hospital Hospitality House, which was founded in 1974 by Mr. Krenson’s wife Ann Krenson and his sister Mickey Beazley. 

Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. 

Minnesota priest plans to auction coveted baseball cards to aid low-income students

Father John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn., shows baseball cards Feb. 10, 2021, that he will sell during an online auction in March to raise money for the Aim Higher Foundation. In his hands are the two most valuable: Jackie Robinson, left, and Hank Aaron. CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — A baseball card collection worth thousands of dollars was a split second away from being dropped into a trash can and disappearing forever in a landfill. 

Father John Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul, recalled that moment more than 15 years ago when he was transferred to a different priestly assignment and wanted to purge some of his belongings. He wasn’t sure what to do with a box containing hundreds of cards in mint condition from the 1970s. 

“Every time you move assignments, it’s a great opportunity to divest yourself a bit,” he said. “I literally had them out at the trash, and changed my mind and brought them back in.” 

Eventually, he began to add more to the collection, and now estimates its value at more than $25,000. Soon, he will make good on his urge to get rid of the cards. This time instead of a trash can, they will go to avid collectors and the proceeds given to the Aim Higher Foundation in St. Paul, where he serves on the board of directors. 

The nonprofit organization gives scholarships to low-income students at Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Students receive $1,000 every year they are enrolled in a Catholic school through eighth grade. A student can receive as much as $9,000 if he or she qualifies beginning in kindergarten. 

Father Ubel, 57, is organizing an online auction for the weekend of March 12-14, the fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. 

He was inspired to sell his collection after watching how Catholic schools have courageously offered in-person learning despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept many public schools closed since last March. 

Although archdiocesan schools closed as well and quickly implemented distance learning, they reopened in the fall for in-person learning. 

“I thought to myself, (Catholic) schools are hitting it out of the park. And, I thought, it’s time to give something back,” he told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

He has more than 2,000 cards, but will focus on the most valuable — about 50 — at the auction. Two big sellers are expected to be a 1948 Jackie Robinson rookie card and a 1954 Hank Aaron rookie card. 

Father Ubel said the Robinson card is worth more than $15,000 and the Aaron card worth about $6,000, although the latter figure is continuing to climb since the slugger’s death Jan. 22. 

Robinson became the first African American player in the major leagues in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and faced racial discrimination. Father Ubel noted that Aaron likewise faced discrimination, most notably while chasing Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs, which stood for nearly four decades. But break it Aaron did April 8, 1974. The slugger retired having clubbed 755 homers, today the second most in major league history. 

Father Ubel started collecting cards in 1970 while in the first grade at Visitation School in Mendota Heights. He bought most of his cards between 1970 and 1974. His interest waned after transferring to nearby St. Thomas Academy, graduating in 1981. 

The cards were stored in a Girl Scout cookie box in the attic of his family home for several years before he eventually retrieved them and started taking them wherever he went after ordination as a priest. His interest picked up years later and he added the Aaron card in 2009 and the Robinson card in 2010. 

The reason he fell in love with baseball is simple: “It’s the only sport I ever really played.” He was a member of a city championship team in 1977. 

The reason he fell in love with baseball cards is equally simple. 

“This is nostalgia, and it brings you right back. … And, I think memory is very 

powerful, and memory is very compelling. It brings us back to a simpler time,” he said. 

For sentimental reasons, it would be understandable for Father Ubel to want to keep his collection. He admitted there’s a tug on his heart to do so, which creates tension surrounding his decision to let go. 

“On a human level, I don’t want to part with these,” he said, “but I also think there are other needs right now that in my life are more important. And, the benefit I received from a Catholic education is really immeasurable to me, my whole life, from kindergarten all the way through seminary and beyond. 

“And, to me, it’s time (to sell the cards). I just felt the Lord speaking to me. You know, Matthew 19 (verse 21): ‘Go, sell what you have.’ It’s time. It’s time to do something and to give back.” 

Diocese offers social media reflections, prayers for Year of St. Joseph

On Dec. 8, 2020, Pope Francis proclaimed the start of the Year of St. Joseph. The Diocese of Nashville is sharing prayers to and reflections about St. Joseph on its social media platforms to help people delve more deeply into a devotion to the Foster Father of Jesus during the year. The painting “St. Joseph with Infant Christ in his Arms” is by Guido Reni (1575-1642). 

Pope Francis has put a spotlight on St. Joseph in declaring this the Year of St. Joseph. And during this year, the Diocese of Nashville is trying to help everyone deepen a devotion to the foster father of Christ. 

“So often he’s the silent piece of the Holy Family. But he had such an important role in supporting Mary and raising Jesus,” said Libby Byrnes, coordinator of high school youth ministry for the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation. 

“The pope refers to St. Joseph as a father in the shadows,” Byrnes added. “We would like to bring him to the light through reflections and prayers focused on him.” 

The Solemnity of St. Joseph is March 19, and every day in March, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Formation will post a short reflection and prayer about St. Joseph on the diocesan social media platforms. The reflections and prayers will come from the book “Day by Day with St. Joseph” By Msgr. Joseph Champlin and Msgr. Kenneth Lasch, which is published by Catholic Book Publishing Corp. of New Jersey. 

Although the youth office is posting the reflections and prayers, they are meant to be shared with everyone, not just youth. “Anybody who wants the content, we want to provide it,” said Robert Strobel, associate director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. 

The youth office has also been posting on the Diocese of Nashville’s Facebook page every Tuesday a short excerpt from Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on St. Joseph, “Patris Corde.” 

In the letter, which was issued on Dec. 8, 2020, the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis shares some personal reflections on St. Joseph, whom he calls an “extraordinary figure, so close to our own human experience.” 

“Patris Corde” looks at the different roles of St. Joseph, including: a beloved father; a tender and loving father; an obedient father; an accepting father; a creatively courageous father; a working father; and a father in the shadows. 

Using social media to share reflections and prayers about St. Joseph is an “opportunity to grow outside our regular postings, to try to reach as many people as we can, especially when people can’t come to church” during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Strobel. “It’s an opportunity to reach out and evangelize,” he added.