Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Dec. 23, 2002

Five years and counting for Father Paul at Holy Trinity

By Julie Yurek

Instead of building houses, Father Paul Wolf is building faith.

It's been nearly five years since Fr. Wolf has been at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Schools.

Fr. Wolf serves as pastor of the parish and superintendent of the schools.

Many changes have occurred at both the church and the schools.

"It's been fun," Fr. Wolf said.

He's looking forward to more years in the parish, he said.

Cosmetic and technology improvements are the easiest changes to spot as a result of Fr. Wolf's hard work.

When Fr. Wolf arrived at Holy Trinity, there were only about 10 computers in the schools. Now, the elementary has one computer lab, the high school has three labs, and each classroom has one computer. All the computers are networked also, he said.

The telephone system was outdated and needed improvement, Fr. Wolf said. "It was still the rotary phones with two separate phones for each of the schools two phone lines."

The improvements to the church include a new furnace with air conditioning to follow, a new organ, lights, and sound system, Fr. Wolf said.

Another change parishioners may notice is when it comes to the different seasons and holidays. Holy Trinity Church seems more in tune, Fr. Wolf said. "We decorate for the holidays. The banners in church change color for the different seasons."

In December the church features blue banners and white stars hanging from the ceiling.

Also new since Fr. Wolf arrived is the child care center that Holy Trinity offers to the public.

Contrary to the myth of the seven-year rule (it's thought that after seven years in one parish, a priest must move on to another parish), Fr. Wolf and his black lab, Jackson, aren't expecting to go anywhere anytime soon.

For school parishes, stability is necessary, Fr. Wolf said. "So that 'rule' doesn't always hold true."

The 2002-03 school year is the first year Fr. Wolf is not the seventh through twelfth grade principal at the k-12 grade schools.

For one year he was both the kindergarten through sixth grade principal, and the seventh through 12th grade principal.

He was the junior and senior high principal for three years, he said.

He continues to serve as superintendent of the schools.

"I don't have the day-to-day running of the school, like discipline issues and teacher evaluations," he said.

However, he still see the students regularly by teaching religion class.

Fr. Wolf also has the parish to think about, with more than 1,200 families. He is busy with weddings, funerals, and baptisms, which has been easier to schedule since turning over the job of principal to Todd Stejskal, he said.

Fr. Wolf also has Winstock, Spring Fling, and other fundraising activities to keep him busy.

Fr. Wolf is a committee member of Winstock, and this year he is chairing Spring Fling. This year the event will be conducted at the high school.

The theme is "No Place Like Home" from the Wizard of Oz.

Fr. Wolf is using his painting talent to help paint the scenery to go along with the theme.

He's also hoping to get Jackson to play Toto, but it's not looking promising, he said. Jackson is about three feet high.

The summer before college on a July day it happened.

"Bam," it hit Fr. Wolf that he was to become a priest, he said.

"I intended on going into architecture," he said with a chuckle.

Fr. Wolf grew up in New Ulm and went to Cathedral High School.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and minors in math and art from St. Mary's College, Winona in 1979.

From there he went to St. Paul's Seminary and graduated with a masters of divinity in 1983.

Fr. Wolf also accomplished another post graduate degree as an education specialist in principal/administration from St. Thomas University in 1998.

He served in many parishes, which included St. Mary's in Sleepy Eye, St. Mary's in Willmar, St. Joseph's in Rosen, St. John's in Ortonville, and St. James in Nassau.

Fr. Wolf was pastor at St. Mary's in Seaforth and pastor/principal at St. Anne's in Wabasso before he came to Winsted.

Through his life, Fr. Wolf has also served on various committees and boards. He was priest council president for nine years, diocesan building committee chair, and he still is a judge for the diocese marriage court, he said.

If he has time, Fr. Wolf also enjoys racquetball and painting. He used to build wooden furniture too, he said.

Fr. Wolf's plans for the future include continued growth in the school, parish, and in his personal life. He may pursue more education, though it's not a must do for him right now, he said.

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