CHARLESTON — Father Lee A. Selzer, director of pastoral ministry to the Hispanic community of Charleston, died Aug. 14 after slipping into a diabetic coma. He was 39.
The wake and Mass of Christian Burial were held Aug. 17 and 18 respectively at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Father Selzer was born Aug. 5, 1968, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., a son of Robert and Catherine Selzer.
He was a graduate of The Citadel in Charleston and Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., from which he earned a Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree. After graduating from The Citadel, Father Selzer worked as a computer expert in a publishing house in Massachusetts and went to Belize as a lay missioner with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity before entering the seminary to study for the priesthood.
Father Selzer was the only priest ordained for the Diocese of Charleston in June 8, 2002, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. His first assignment was as pastoral associate at St. Joseph in Columbia and then as administrator for St. Mark in Newberry, Holy Spirit Mission in Laurens and St. Boniface Church in Joanna.
Msgr. Charles Rowland was the pastor at St. Joseph Church where Father Selzer was first assigned.
“He was a very dedicated priest who thoroughly lived his ministry and got the greatest pleasure in serving the people of God, most especially those that may have special needs or are overlooked by general society,” Msgr. Rowland said. “He was very proud of his years at The Citadel and he really took to heart the promise of living simply.”
Father Selzer, fluent in Spanish, had been assigned to minister to the Spanish-speaking community of Charleston on Aug. 8. Msgr. Rowland, pastor of Holy Spirit on Johns Island, said the priest was thrilled about the move. He said his ecumenical and pastoral gifts had an impact on people.
“He had tremendous simpatico with the people of the Hispanic culture,” Msgr. Rowland said. “He had the Spanish community at Holy Spirit. During his first and only Mass he preached for 30 minutes and there was not a sound in the church. Some of the adults were looking around wondering where the kids were but the kids were held in attention by his words.”
Father Selzer is survived by his parents, of Vermont; four sisters, Wendy Anne Strycula of Texas, Debbie Anne Weinstein of Ohio, Rebecca Anne Kirker, M.D., of Virginia, and Kimberly Anne Selzer of New York; his grandmother, Constance Selzer; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Mark Allen Selzer.