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On Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, Msgr. Clinton F. Hirsch, former administrator of the Diocese of Evansville, went home to the Lord he so faithfully served during nearly 70 years as a Catholic priest. He was 94, and he had spent many of his retirement years in his beloved Posey County.

Born April 5, 1918 in Poseyville, Indiana, the oldest son of John and Rose (Ziliak) Hirsch, Msg. Hirsch attended St. Francis Xavier Church in Poseyville, along with the parish school.

In 1933, he enrolled at St. Meinrad, where he attended both high school and college. From 1939-45, he studied at the seminary, and on Feb. 2, 1945, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Henry J. Grimmelsman at Assumption Cathedral in Evansville.

Msgr. Hirsch’s first assignment was assistant pastor at Assumption and secretary in the diocesan chancery office. His arrival in the diocesan office followed closely the establishment of the Diocese of Evansville in 1944. 

From 1946 to 1947, he studied canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. When he returned to southern Indiana, he was named assistant pastor at Assumption Cathedral as well as a notary in the diocesan tribunal.

In 1948, Msgr. Hirsch became the vice-chancellor, and in 1952, he started serving as chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville, continuing his work in the chancery.

In 1964 he served as temporary administrator at Assumption Cathedral. That property was sold to Evansville Future, Inc., and the buildings were razed in 1965.  Holy Trinity Church, which stood blocks away from the cathedral, was designated as the pro-cathedral for the diocese. Msgr. Hirsch was named its administrator.

In 1966, he was named Vicar for Religious. He was honored with the title “Reverend Monsignor” on Nov. 26, 1967, and the next year he was named pastor at Holy Cross Church in Fort Branch.

In 1969, Msgr. Hirsch became the administrator of the Evansville diocese. In 1970, he was reappointed Vicar for Religious and Parish Priest Consultor. That year, he was also named Defender of the Bond, Judge and Advocate for particular cases in the diocesan tribunal office.

At the end of the year, he became the diocesan chancellor and director of diocesan operations, as well as continuing with his other duties.

In 1976, he was named vicar general.

Msgr. Hirsch spent the 1980s working on the Personnel Board, with the tribunal office, as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital, and as administrator pro tem at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Haubstadt and at St. Boniface Church in Evansville.

He retired in 1991, and began to focus his energies on the history of the diocese. In 2003, his efforts were published under the title, “Catholic Diocese of Evansville, 1944 – 1994, the First Fifty Years.”

Throughout his priestly ministry, Msgr. Hirsch wrote a series of reflections. In one entitled “Reflections on the End of the Trail,” he wrote, “I thank God for allowing me to reach this point! But as I look ahead, down the road I can see at some distance, and I don’t know how far away, a sign that reads, ‘The end of the trail.’ So be it!”

Survivors include his sister, Rita Kuhlman of Kokomo, Indiana, and his brother, Dr. Herman Hirsch of Mount Vernon, Indiana.

Preceding him in death were his parents, sister, Mary Ann Reising and three brothers, Linus, Charles and Robert Hirsch.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Poseyville, Indiana with burial in the church cemetery. Bishop Charles C. Thompson as celebrant.

Friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 at Werry Funeral Home in Poseyville, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. and visitation continuing from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012.


Monsignor Clinton F. Hirsch