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St. Anastasia parish mourns death of its senior priest, 81

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If there was one thing Frederick Bedell said he would remember about the late Rev. George Lutjen, it would be his willingness to reach out to people in need.

“Father George was very friendly. Very outgoing,” Bedell said. “He was always going out of his way to show his concern for others.”

Lutjen, 81, died July 11 at his family home in Glendale after a battle with cancer. From 1998 through his retirement as a senior priest in 2006, he served at St. Anastasia in Douglaston, at 45-14 245th St.

Bedell, who serves as a grand knight of the St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council No. 5911 in Douglaston, said Lutjen had had impact on his family in helping instill values into his stepdaughter, Susan Shipro. He said Lutjen, who also worked as a religious education teacher, left a lasting mark on his stepdaughter throughout her upbringing.

“She said she was very fond of Father George, for he helped her out a lot and taught her the power of prayer,” Bedell said.

And though his stepdaughter, now in her 30s, suffered a stroke at age 26, Bedell said she still could remember Father Lutjen and his teachings and he would often ask about her over the years.

“It is hard to believe all the students he must have taught, and yet he still remembered those young people who were most in need of his compassion,” Bedell said.

Monsignor Michael J. Cantley preached the homily at Lutjen’s funeral service and spoke fondly of the priest. He said it was Lutjen’s sense of humor, humility and commitment to teaching through the church’s religious education program for public school students that touched those around him.

Lutjen, who was born in Manhattan, was first ordained in 1968 and had served in the Brooklyn Diocese since 1977, when he started at St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodhaven. After working in Woodhaven, he moved on to serving at Blessed Sacrament in Jackson Heights from 1980-88. He was accepted as a priest of the diocese in 1982, St. Anastasia said.

Bedell, who now serves as a lector, usher and minister in the Catholic faith at the church, said he would not forget the lessons he had learned through his years working with Lutjen.

“He was a remarkable man,” Bedell said. “I believe that those of us at St. Anastasia who remember Father George have been truly blessed to have a priest like him in our midst and whom we will never forget.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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