Father Albert James Hartlage, a retired priest in the Archdiocese of Louisville, died June 6 at the age of 85.
Father Hartlage, a native of Louisville, recently celebrated his 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1956, he served as associate pastor at St. Columba Church.
In 1967 Father Hartlage began a 20-year career serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, including during the Vietnam war — where he tended to the spiritual needs of 2,500 soldiers.
In an article that appeared in The Record on Jan. 9, 1969, Father Hartlage said of his service in Vietnam, “We’ve got three sure steps to God: confession, the Mass and Communion. And it was my job to see that they were available to these men.”
According to the article, Father Hartlage sometimes had to hitch a helicopter ride to reach some locations. Despite these challenges, he celebrated 450 Masses during his year of service in Vietnam.
He also expressed pride in the men serving abroad and was encouraged by their response to his ministry, he told The Record. In some areas where he served, Father Hartlage said, he would start Mass with a dozen men, but “by the time I left, I would have 30 or so at Mass. Once I got them there, they usually came back.”
Following his service in the military, Father Hartlage returned to the Archdiocese of Louisville where he served as chaplain at Frazier Rehab Center, Kosair Children’s Hospital and St. Joseph Children’s Home from 1987 to 1989.
He also served as chaplain at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital from 1989 to 1993. Father Hartlage also served as associate pastor of St. Stephen Martyr Church, St. Michael Church in Fairfield, Ky., and All Saints Church in Taylorsville, Ky.
Father Hartlage is survived by six brothers Bert (Mary Jane), Delphin (Ethel), Earl (Donna), Gerard (Alejandra), Michael all of Louisville and Floyd (Shirley) of Goshen, Ky., his aunt Anita Paulin, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Visitation for Father Hartlage will be held today, June 9, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Houghlin-Greenwell Funeral Home, 1475 New Shepherdsville Road, Bardstown, Ky.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will celebrate the Funeral Mass June 10 at 11 a.m at St. Michael in Fairfield. A one-hour visitation will also take place at the church June 10 starting at 10 a.m. Burial will be in St. Michael Cemetery in Fairfield.