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$10K award offered for missing 75-year-old Franklin priest

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 23:25:44-04

FRANKLIN, Wis. — The family of a retired priest with dementia, who disappeared more than a week ago, is now offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to finding him.

Father Anthony Kluckman, 75, was last seen leaving his apartment Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. That’s right across the street from the Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, near Highway 100 and Rawson.

Security cameras captured him walking out of his door, carrying a small duffel bag, around 1:30 a.m. Thursday July 21.

The Franklin Police Department is leading the investigation. Professional search teams, K9 officers, and volunteers have spent the past week looking for him in the heavily wooded area surrounding Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. On Thursday, scuba divers searched the ponds on property.

While the investigation will remain open and active, Franklin police say they will likely not search again until there is new evidence or a credible tip.

Father Anthony moved to Franklin last year to be with other retired priests and brothers. He considered them family.

While Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake is not an assisted living facility, Father Anthony was receiving some in-home care.

“Everybody’s been trying to think of clues, you know,” said Mary Gorski, Communications Director for the Priests of the Sacred Heart. “Did he say something to indicate where he might have been heading? A lot of the priests and brothers here grew up and went to seminary school together. They’ve been friends for years. There’s a great sense of sadness, loss and concern.”

Gorski said they did notice his dementia had been progressing.

“I think his memory issues really became more challenging quite quickly,” she said. “When I saw him a couple weeks, he knew who I was. But he could go into moments where he got quite confused. But, like any family, we were trying to keep him cared for and around people he knew and loved, for as long as possible. We never expected something like this.”

Father Anthony has been a priest for nearly 50 years. He is especially known for his years of dedicated work with Native American children and families at a church and school in South Dakota.

He retired and moved to Franklin last year after his dementia diagnosis. Friends say he was starting to experience symptoms that were affecting his work. He addressed that diagnosis in the final mass he led in South Dakota in the spring of 2021. Many of his family members attended it.

“His family and the school community were so supportive,” said Claire Willrodt, Communications Director for St. Joseph’s Indian School. “Father Anthony spoke about what he had been going through, and handled everything with such humility, courage, and honesty. It was a brave, beautiful moment.”

The Priests of the Sacred Heart are in regular communication with Father Anthony's family. If you know anything you are urged to contact Franklin Police.

He was last seen wearing glasses, an ID bracelet, a square print multicolored shirt, dark pants, white Adidas tennis shoes, and was carrying a small black duffel bag. He is about 5'10" and weighs around 250 pounds.

If you see him, contact Franklin police at 414-425-2522.

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