Founding pastor of St. Gabriel, Neenah, dies at 95

By | June 9, 2010

Born on April 21, 1915, in Appleton, he was the son of Anton and Caroline (Heintz) Stingle. He attended St. Francis Seminary, and was ordained at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral on May 31, 1941, by Bishop Paul P. Rhode.

Besides St. Gabriel, where he served from 1959 until his retirement in 1985, he had also served as pastor at Immculate Conception Parish in Florence and St. Ann, St. Anna. Prior to that, he had been assistant pastor at Annunciation in Green Bay and St. Luke in Two Rivers.

“He served from the top of the diocese — at Florence, which you have to go through Michigan to reach — to the bottom at St. Anna, which is two feet from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee,” said Fr. Charles Brooks, who served as homilist at the funeral Mass.

“I met Fr. Stingle in the second year of my priesthood and I cherished every moment with him since,” said Fr. Brooks, who was assistant pastor at St. Gabriel from 1966 to 1969.

“Fr. Casey was an easy person to follow,” said Fr. Richard Allen, who became pastor of St. Gabriel when Fr. Stingle retired. “He had developed a real trust in terms of the people. When one priest follows another, you walk in his trust. So when somebody ahead of you has prepared a good relationship, you benefit from that.”

While at St. Gabriel, Fr. Stingle started the first parish council in the Green Bay Diocese.

“He had a good idea of church,” said Fr. Allen. “He was forming church at the same time that the Second Vatican Council was beginning to grapple with what it is to ‘be church.'”

“When I look back,” Fr. Stingle told The Compass last year, on the 50th anniversary of St. Gabriel, “wherever I was, the people never get enough credit for what’s going on in a parish.” He noted the “thousands of volunteer hours” given each year to parish projects.

Besides parish work, Fr. Stingle also portrayed St. Nicholas for school children for 13 years — using a miter that had belonged to Bishop Aloysius Wycislo — and enjoyed celebrating Mass at two schools and several Green Bay area nursing homes until failing health prevented that in later years. He was able to attend the anniversary Mass at St. Gabriel last September.

Fr. Brooks said that he most admired Fr. Stingle for “his administrative mind and his compasionate personality. I thought he dealt well with people, in a humble, gentle way and got the work done, without a doubt.”

Fr. Stingle also had a deep love for Mary, whom he told The Compass he credited with helping him at all his assignments. So it seemed appropriate that, at the commendation at his funeral, the noon Angelus bells began to ring at St. Gabriel.

That funeral liturgy was held June 4 at St. Gabriel, with Bishop David L. Ricken as celebrant. Also in attendance was Sr. Donna Marie Kessler, who started St. Gabriel School with Fr. Stingle in 1959.

Burial was at St. Joseph Cemetery, Appleton. A memorial fund has been established for tuition assistance at St. Gabriel School.

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