Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 24, 2003

Former Holy Trinity priest Fr. Gerry dies at 60 following fight with cancer

By Ryan Gueningsman

No one drove to a Vikings game with as much enthusiasm as former Holy Trinity priest Gerald Hillesheim did.

"Anybody that ever went to a game with him has a memory," said former Holy Trinity priest and long-time friend Jack Brunner. "He drove like he was in the Indy 500. We cut off more cars and cut lanes to jockey for position. He really loved his sports."

Father Gerry passed away March 14 at Methodist Hospital in Rochester after a fight with prostate cancer at the age of 60. He celebrated his 35th anniversary of becoming a priest March 9, five days before his death.

He served Holy Trinity parish as assistant pastor from 1968 to 1981, a majority of that time under Brunner.

"He and I were together for nine years at Holy Trinity," Brunner said. "In those years, Gerry was an athletic director, religion teacher, and he was present at every athletic function."

Hillesheim was able to combine his love for sports and his ability to help people through his job. Holy Trinity even started the Father Gerry outstanding senior boy and girl award in 1979, which continues to this day.

"His biggest strength was his pride in his priesthood," said Brunner. "He helped a lot of people with different things in their lives.

"He didn't want to leave Winsted, but he knew that's what the bishop wanted."

After leaving Holy Trinity, Hillesheim was assigned to St. George's Catholic Church in St. George, and also taught at Cathedral High School in New Ulm

"He was well accepted at St. George, and well-liked," Brunner said.

At the time of his passing, Hillesheim was serving St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Fairfax, St. Willibrord's in Gibbon, and Sacred Heart in Franklin.

A complete obituary for Hillesheim can be found in today's Herald Journal on the obituary page.

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