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Father Gerald A. Hillesheim

Father Gerald A. Hillesheim, age 60, of Fairfax, and formerly of Minneota and Winsted, died Friday, March 14, 2003, at Methodist Hospital in Rochester.

Gerald Arthur Hillesheim, the son of Raymond and Odelia (Huiras) Hillesheim, was born June 30, 1942, in Sleepy Eye.

He was baptized by Father Michael, and grew up on the family farm in Leavenworth Township. He attended country school, District 12, and Japanese Martyrs School until the eighth grade.

Gerald became a student at Nazareth Hall in St. Paul, attending school there for six years, moving then to St. Paul Seminary to complete the last six years of his education.

He was ordained to Subdeaconate March 11, 1967, at the Basilica of St. Mary's in Minneapolis, and ordained to the Deaconate June 3, 1967, at the Cathedral in St. Paul.

Father Gerald was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Alphonse J. Schladweiler at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New Ulm March 9, 1968.

His first Solemn Mass was March 10, 1968, at the Church of the Japanese Martyrs in Leavenworth.

He became assistant priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Winsted, serving there for 13 years, after which he became pastor at St. George Catholic Church in St. George and taught at Cathedral High School in New Ulm.

Father Gerald became Pastor at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Minneota, St. Cyril's and St. Methodius Catholic Church in Taunten and St. Eloi Catholic Church in Ghent, serving those parishes until moving to Fairfax in June 2002.

Father Gerald was pastor at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Fairfax, St. Willibrord's Catholic Church in Gibbon, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Franklin, serving those parishes until his death.

Father Gerald's greatest love was his priesthood, being able to serve God's people. He was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan, holding season tickets for over 30 years.

He enjoyed fishing, especially at Lake of the Woods, hunting deer, family gatherings, and taking pictures of the family, watching all sports, watching movies, playing board games, canning and cooking, especially making homemade soup, and being with people.

He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Knights of Columbus. Father Gerald had a great sensitivity to the grade and high school students and always had a positive attitude, and a smile for everyone.

Father Gerald was preceded in death by his father Raymond, brother Marvin, and great-niece Savannah Wroolie.

Survivors include his mother Odelia Hillesheim of Springfield; sisters Marion and husband Dwight McKenzie of Princeton, Barbara and husband Richard Filzen of New Ulm, and Bernadette and husband Thomas Kachelmeier of Sleepy Eye; brothers Leonard "Lenny" Hillesheim of Sleepy Eye, Daniel Hillesheim and Anthony Hillesheim of Springfield; sister-in-law Betty and husband LeRoy Hagert of Springfield; 13 nieces and nephews, and nine great-nieces and great-nephews.

Visitation was Thursday, March 20 from 3 to 8 p.m., at the Church of the Japanese Martyrs in Leavenworth, continuing Friday, March 21, from 8 to 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Sleepy Eye.

A rosary took place Thursday at 4 p.m., and a parish prayer service was at 7 p.m. that evening, both at the Church of the Japanese Martyrs in Leavenworth.

A Mass of Christian burial was Friday, March 21, 2003, at 11 a.m., with Bishop John C. Nienstedt officiating, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Sleepy Eye.

Interment will be at the Church of the Japanese Martyrs Cemetery in Leavenworth, Minn.

Casey Filzen, Joel Hillesheim, Brandon Hillesheim, Amy Wroolie, Erin Warmbold, David McKenzie, Melissa Madsen, Heidi Filzen, Jennifer Hillesheim, Heather Kachelmeier, Lee Kachelmeier, Dayna Maher, and Kris Hillesheim served as casketbearers.

The Sturm Funeral Home in Sleepy Eye took care of arrangements.

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