Persons, places and things: Ways of the Cross


By Barb Arland-Fye

More than 3 million copies of “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” by Clarence Enzler are in print, which speaks to the enduring appeal of this 41-year-old Lenten devotional booklet.

Enzler relates the everyday lives of ordinary people, like me, to Jesus’ journey on the way to Calvary.

My parish has been using this meditation for a number of years on Fridays during Lent, and I find it so meaningful each time I participate. Three years ago, while meditating on Enzler’s Way of the Cross at my parish shortly before my father-in-law died, I turned to my husband Steve and said, “This makes me think about your dad.”

Ever since, I’ve been intrigued about the background of the late Clarence Enzler and was delighted to learn he had a daughter, Eileen Enzler O’Brien, who teaches at All Saints Catholic School in Davenport.


Hearing his meditation recited at Stations of the Cross is still special to her. “Some of those lines are so like him, very true of his life … from our life,” she said.

I made a mental note to write about the family connection someday, knowing that other people in our diocese probably meditate on Everyone’s Way of the Cross.

O’Brien’s news this spring served as a reminder. She and her 12 siblings pooled their resources to republish their father’s first book, a religious meditation titled: “My Other Self, Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith.”

O’Brien and two other siblings, Jerry Enzler of Dubuque and Mary Pat Enzler Breitfelder of St. Donatus, are hosting a book release party Friday, April 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at River Lights Books in Dubuque. The book, published by Ave Maria Press Inc., is also available online at and www.

“ … Clarence Enzler’s work has touched many lives and brought many people closer to the Lord,” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., wrote about the book. “It is still a book to be read with reflection and profit today.”

Timothy Shriver, president of Special Olympics, wrote that “Clarence Enzler’s classic speaks a language of devotion and faith that is ever new. …”

The book is similar to Everyone’s Way of the Cross in its personal, practical style, says Father John Enzler, one of the author’s children and pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C. The book “speaks to people’s hearts as if Jesus is speaking to them.”

Fr. Enzler said he and his siblings had been getting so many calls from people who wanted to read the out-of-print classic. “We realized it was important to get this back into print,” he said.

He and Eileen describe their dad as humble, humorous, a loving husband and father, a man of faith and service. Born in 1910 in Dubuque, he was always a spiritual person who had thought about the priesthood before he met the love of his life, Kathleen. A stutterer, he struggled with and eventually overcame that speech impediment while raising a family, working full-time as a speechwriter in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and writing religious books and reflections in his spare time. Among his duties he wrote speeches for eight different secretaries of agriculture under six different presidents, retiring in 1972.

He was ordained a deacon later that year and had the privilege of giving the homily at his priest son’s first Mass in 1973. Clarence Enzler died in 1976 at age 66.

His father’s inspiration is never far from Fr. Enzler. This past Friday, as usual, he used Everyone’s Way of the Cross during Stations of the Cross in his parish. “If I’m doing Stations, I’m going to use his …I love it.”


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