ERIE, Pa. — The mystery of grace, working powerfully in the relationship of fathers with their sons, shines like the sun reflecting off the golden dome of Notre Dame's Sacred Heart Basilica in the lives of Edward “Moose” Krause and his eldest son, Holy Cross Father Edward Krause.
The elder Krause is a true Notre Dame legend. In fact, the day after his death at age 79 on Dec. 11, 1992, former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust remarked, “I think the true legend of Notre Dame has just died. They talk about Gipper, Rockne and the Four Horsemen, but I think he was the true legend.”
The younger Krause, ordained a priest in 1967, is an assistant professor of moral theology and liberal studies at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. He also is pastor of Immaculate Conception, a predominantly black inner-city parish. He serves on the board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists and the Scholars for Social Justice and is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.
The story of the two Krauses speaks of the fulfillment of Christian manhood cultivated at the University of Notre Dame. It is also the story of how faith is passed from one generation to the next.
Beginning in 1930, when he was recruited by Knute Rockne himself just months before the great coach's tragic death in a plane crash, Edward “Moose” Krause towered over Notre Dame athletics in a gentle, humble, fatherly and faithful manner unlike no one who preceded or has succeeded him.
As an athlete, a two-sport star in football and basketball, he was a formidable force. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he combined brute strength with rare agility for a man his size. Later, he served as Frank Leahy's line coach in football, was the head basketball coach and became the No. 1 worldwide ambassador for the Fighting Irish during his many years as athletic director at the University of Notre Dame.
As for the man himself, his character, Krause's soul, was formed through the twofold virtues: his love of the Catholic faith combined with a burning, selfless loyalty to the university.
“Daddy,” according to 62-year-old Father Ed Krause, “although he was not trained to be a theologian, had a deep, intuitive understanding of our Catholic faith.”
Most importantly, his son said, in all areas of his life, he lived what he believed. To properly understand how seriously Krause viewed his commitments, one need not look beyond the family and his role as husband and father.
On Jan. 21, 1967, just two weeks after the Krause family experienced the joy of Father Ed's ordination to the priesthood in Rome, Mrs. Elise Krause was involved in a near-fatal automobile accident on a snowy night in South Bend that left her bedridden, only a shadow of her former self.
At the time, the Krauses had been married for 29 years. Following the accident, the couple's fulfilling married life, which they had so happily shared, was changed forever.
In many ways, Moose Krause lost his spouse, his soul mate and the woman who kept so much of his life orderly.
He described the accident as “a veritable crucifixion for both of us.” Yet he refused to become a victim of self-pity. Instead, he drew on the strength of his faith and the grace that flowed from his marriage vows.
For years, until his wife's death in 1990, Krause visited her two, three times a day in the nursing home. He spoon-fed her at mealtime, supported and carried her when she attempted to walk and sang songs to her at night when she had difficulty sleeping.
Being human, the ordeal took a toll on Krause. He fell victim to alcoholism but, once again reaching deep down for spiritual strength, admitted his weakness and his powerlessness and overcame the disease, living soberly and helping countless numbers of people with a similar problem.
Father to Son
Moose Krause's greatest legacy lives on far removed from the arena of athletic competition, with its fleeting thrills and fading applause. The promises of baptism blossoming in the sacrament of marriage found fulfillment in Christian family life.
It was amid such a cradle of grace that Father Ed was born in 1940 in Worcester, Mass. At the time, his “daddy,” as he lovingly still calls him, was an assistant football coach at College of the Holy Cross who at the same time barnstormed all over New England as a semipro basketball star, earning as much as $100 a game during the pre-George Mikan and preNBA era of the game.
Father Ed's priestly ministry is rooted in his awareness that his life is a gift from God. “The heart of my ministry,” he said, “is God's radical, eternal and infinite love for each one of us.”
In Father Ed's case, sacramental theology opens a door to that divine love. “That means understanding the Mass and the Eucharist; the mystery of transubstantiation and the Real Presence,” he said. “The mystery of the Eucharist is the extension of the Incarnation in history.”
How, you might ask, can anyone properly respond to such an unmerited gift? Father Ed believes the answer is contained within the name “Notre Dame.”
“Our response to the mysteries of our faith must be one with the response made by our mother, Our Lady,” he said.
Speaking of Notre Dame, Father Ed, who himself is a 1963 graduate of the university, remains awed when he thinks about the founding of the school by Father Edward Sorin in 1842.
“Just think,” he said, “about the fact that Father Sorin built the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart and a glittering golden dome in the middle of the woods in Indiana.”
The elder Krause was a member of both the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of Malta.
“He was most proud to be a ‘double knight,’” Father Ed said. He is proud his dad is known as “Mr. Notre Dame,” the title of a book written by Jason Kelly about his father.
Edward “Moose” Krause was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery along Notre Dame Avenue at the edge of the campus. Following the committal prayers, Father Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame, broke the silence by softly singing, “Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame …”
Spontaneously, all in attendance joined in the singing of the remainder of the Victory March as a final tribute to Edward “Moose” Krause: “… Wake up the echoes cheering her name / Send a volley, cheer on high / Shake down the thunder from the sky / What though the odds be great or small / Old Notre Dame will win over all / While her loyal sons are marching / Onward to victory.”
Wally Carew, author of Men of Spirit, Men of Sports, as well as a forthcoming book on the storied 90-year Boston College vs. Holy Cross football rivalry, writes from Medford, Massachusetts.