Fr. Mauthe, first recipient of Newman Award for campus ministry, dies

Diocesan priest served 30 years as UW-Green Bay Newman Center chaplain

ALLOUEZ — Fr. Richard Mauthe once told The Compass that celebrating the Eucharist is what he liked most about being a priest.

“It’s a gathering that touches a point in everyone’s life — happy, sad — it encompasses all parts of human emotions,” he said.

Fr. Richard Mauthe stands next to a sign that was unveiled in 2010 showing the new name of the Ecumenical Center located on the UW-Green Bay campus. Fr. Mauthe served as Newman Center chaplain from 1961 to 1991 and helped found the Ecumenical Center. He died Jan. 12. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Fr. Mauthe died Jan. 12 at age 87.

Even in times when he was dealing with health struggles, Fr. Mauthe never lost his gift for preaching. Sylvia Corbeill of Resurrection Parish, Allouez, and a longtime member of Holy Cross Parish, Bay Settlement, witnessed Fr. Mauthe’s gift firsthand. Her husband, Dick, received services at Odd Fellow Home in Green Bay at the same time as Fr. Mauthe.

“We would go to Mass (at Odd Fellow),” explained Sylvia. “A couple times, the priest, who was the celebrant, asked (Fr. Mauthe) to say a few words. He was able to give such a beautiful reflection, spur of the moment, on whatever the theme of the day.”

Sylvia added that Fr. Mauthe “always had a string of visitors.”

Fr. Mauthe was born and raised in Kimberly. He said that his pursuit of the priesthood stemmed from being “drawn to God, and priests looked like they were connected to God.”

Following high school, he attended junior college at the Capuchin House of Philosophy in Garrison, N.Y. He then studied philosophy at Marquette University in Milwaukee before entering St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he earned a degree in theology.

Fr. Mauthe was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stanislaus Bona on May 31, 1958, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay. His first appointment, following a summer assignment at St. Mary Parish, Peshtigo, was as an assistant at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Green Bay, where he served for six years.

In 1961, he began 30 years of service in campus ministry when he was appointed chaplain of the Newman Club of what was then the UW-Green Bay extension. The ministry developed into a full-time position and Fr. Mauthe was appointed resident and chaplain at the Green Bay Newman Center. In 1967, Fr. Mauthe, along with other religious leaders, founded the UWGB Ecumenical Center.

He served at the university until 1991, at which time a scholarship was established in his name. A year later, Fr. Mauthe was honored as the first recipient of the John Henry Cardinal Newman Award by the National Association of Diocesan Directors of Campus Ministry.

A return to parish ministry followed his three decades at the university. Fr. Mauthe served as administrator and pastor at St. Louis Parish, Dyckesville, until his retirement to senior priest status in 1999. He also served as administrator at St. Francis de Paul Parish, Marchand. Fr. Mauthe continued serving parishes sacramentally as a senior priest, including regularly assisting at Stella Maris Parish in Northern Door County.

Other ministries during his 58-plus years of priesthood included chaplain for the Catholic Women’s Club of Green Bay and the Green Bay Serra Club, field advocate for the marriage tribunal and service as a member of the Ecumenical Commission and Commission for Evangelization for the diocese.

In 2010, Fr. Mauthe received another honor. The Ecumenical Center was renamed The Richard Mauthe Center for Faith, Spirituality and Social Justice.

Reflecting on his priesthood, Fr. Mauthe once wrote, “Apart from the years Jesus Christ walked this earth in person, I have lived through the most explosive years of human history. What an honor to have lived in these times and been able to make some contribution to its development.”

Fr. Mauthe was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Leona (Sawall) Mauthe. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Ed and Joan Mauthe of Kimberly, a nephew, nieces, and great nephews and nieces.

The funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 17 at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Green Bay. Bishop David Ricken was the celebrant and Fr. Steven Brice served as the homilist. Burial followed at Holy Name Cemetery in Kimberly.

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