Fr. Van Der Horst, 77, dies

By | September 23, 2009

Following seven years at the store, he enlisted in the Army, where he served as an assistant to the military chaplain. That experience sparked his decision to enter St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary in 1956. Fr. Van Der Horst completed his high school education and two years of college studies at St. Lawrence. His studies for the priesthood were completed at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee.

Fr. Van Der Horst was ordained a priest for the diocese by Bishop Stanislaus Bona on May 29, 1965, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay. He served as a parish priest from 1965 until his retirement from active ministry in 2002. Fr. Van Der Horst’s first appointment was as an assistant at Sacred Heart Parish, Shawano. He then served as associate pastor at St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Green Bay. In June of 1977, Fr. Van Der Horst was appointed pastor at St. Mary Parish, De Pere. Health problems caused him to take a leave of absence in August of 1978. Approximately six months later, he returned to active ministry as an associate at St. Philip. In 1982, he was named associate pastor at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Green Bay, where he served until his retirement.

“God has blessed me with my priestly ministry,” Fr. Van Der Horst once said. “I consider it to be a privilege to have served the people of Shawano, De Pere and Green Bay. Thank you people of God. You have always been very special to me.”

In addition to his ministry, Fr. Van Der Horst enjoyed traveling, the Packers, playing cards, reading and bowling.

Fr. Tom Pomeroy, pastor at Holy Cross Parish, Kaukauna, served as the homilist at the funeral Mass celebrated Sept. 16 at Holy Cross, Fr. Van Der Horst’s home parish. Bishop David Ricken presided.

Fr. Pomeroy said that he got to know Fr. Van Der Horst, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, while he was serving in Green Bay. He visited him regularly the past two years in Kaukauna. Fr. Van Der Horst’s speech was limited, but Fr. Pomeroy said he was thankful to be in his presence.

“I spoke a great deal to his sister Rosie,” said Fr. Pomeroy. “(Fr. Van Der Horst) loved celebrating Mass. He took his faith seriously. He also was a devoted to his family. He was a good brother and uncle. Family was very important to him. He really looked up to his father.”

Fr. Van Der Horst’s health problems gave him perspective in ministering to the elderly, added Fr. Pomeroy.

“He loved the people and focused on serving the elderly,” he said. “He was very compassionate and understanding from his own struggles.”

Fr. Van Der Horst is survived by a sister, Rosemary Verkuilen, Little Chute; a sister-in-law, Louise Van Der Horst, Kaukauna; a brother-in-law, Jerome Nettekoven, Kaukauna; many nieces and nephews. Burial followed the funeral Mass at Holy Cross Parish Cemetery.

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