Cover photo for Rev. Michael G.  Mertens's Obituary
Rev. Michael G.  Mertens Profile Photo

Rev. Michael G. Mertens

d. April 24, 2015

Father Michael G. Mertens, at the age of 94 and a priest for 69 years, died on Friday, April 24, 2015, at Benedictine Manor in La Crosse.


Father Mertens was born on January 29, 1921, in Thorp, Wisconsin, to Oscar and Catherine (née Heiman) Mertens. He attended St. Bernard School in Thorp; St. John Preparatory Seminary and St. John University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse on September 2, 1945, at Saint John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minnesota, by the Most Reverend Peter W. Bartholome, Coadjutor Bishop of Saint Cloud.


Father Mertens’ first assignment following ordination was as assistant to Monsignor Victor Plecity, Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, La Crosse. Soon thereafter he was appointed instructor at Aquinas High School and chaplain to the La Crosse Newman Club in La Crosse. On November 5, 1946, he was appointed assistant to Monsignor Peter Pape, Rector of Saint Joseph Cathedral in La Crosse. In August 1947 he was appointed assistant to Father Joseph Cysewski, Pastor of Saint Paul Parish, Mosinee, before leaving for graduate studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in September of that year. On June 29, 1948, Father Mertens was appointed professor at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse and Defender of the Bond in the Diocesan Tribunal. In 1952 he was appointed an instructor at Regis High School in Eau Claire with residence at St. Patrick Rectory. In June 1953 he was appointed administrator of Saint Philip Parish near Rolling Ground, rural Soldiers Grove, and St. Martin Mission in Boaz.


On May 29, 1956, Father Mertens was appointed pastor of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Viroqua, continuing as Defender of the Bond and Bishop’s Delegate for Divorce and Separation cases in the Matrimonial Tribunal. During this time he built the new parish church there. In June 1965, after a diocesan-wide consultation by the newly-installed Bishop Frederick Freking, Father Mertens was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse with residence at Holy Cross Seminary. He was appointed pastor of Holy Family Parish, Willard, in June 1969; and dean of the Clark-Jackson Deanery in 1974. In 1976 Father Mertens was appointed Clergy Personnel Director, residing again at Holy Cross Seminary. During this time he served as temporary administrator of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Viroqua; Holy Guardian Angels Parish, Brackett; and St. Mary Help of Christians Parish, Greenwood.
On June 15, 1980, Father Mertens was appointed pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in Greenwood. He was appointed pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Necedah, on April 16, 1985, where he served until being granted the status of senior priest on July 1, 1992. Since then he has resided at Holy Cross Diocesan Center. For the next several years he offered Mass regularly at St. Joseph Villa, St. Joseph Ridge. For a few months in 1999 he served as parochial administrator of St. Peter Parish, Middle Ridge; and St. Joseph Parish, St. Joseph Ridge.


Father Mertens is survived by two brothers, Bernard (Mary Ann) and Robert (Rose); and three sisters: Dolores Techmeier, Theresa Westberg and Margaret Slowiak. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Hugo and Francis; and five sisters: Catherine Hazuga, Marie Weix, Ruth Weix, Helen Koenig and Marcella Nye.


A Mass will be celebrated at Christ the King Chapel in Holy Cross Diocesan Center, 3710 East Ave. So., La Crosse, on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 10:30 AM, with Bishop William Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse, presiding. Visitation will be held in Christ the King Chapel on Thursday, April 30, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM. The Rosary and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be recited at 4:00 and Evening Prayer from the Office for the Dead will be celebrated at 7:00. There will also be visitation on Friday morning from 9:00 until the time of the Mass.


The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 109 N. Church St., Thorp, Wis., on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at 11:00 AM, with Monsignor Michael Gorman, Vicar General, presiding. There will be visitation in the church Saturday morning from 9:30 until the time of the Mass. Burial will follow in the priests’ section of St. Bernard Catholic Church Cemetery.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rev. Michael G. Mertens, please visit our flower store.


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