Priest dies following auto accident

By | July 29, 2010

Bishop Mark Schmitt, former auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay and now the retired Bishop of Marquette, Mich., was one of Fr. Schumacher’s classmates.

“For 70 years, we’ve been friends,” said Bishop Schmitt. “Not just friends, but awfully good friends. We went on vacations together. I feel like an orphan. But God will take care of him.”

Fr. Schumacher was ordained May 22, 1948, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, by Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona. His first appointment was as assistant pastor at the cathedral until his appointment to Lakewood. An avid skier, Fr. Schumacher was involved in building a ski jump at Lakewood and teaching parish members to ski.

Over the years, he also served on the diocesan Board of Consultors and Presbyteral Council. After retirement, Fr. Schumacher helped with weekend Masses at St. Michael in Suring and St. John in Gillett, as well as at Chute Pond.

Sr. Marla Clercx, parish director at Suring and Gillett, said, “He was dearly loved. What he’s most remembered for is always singing a blessing at the end of Mass. He had a beautiful voice… People just waited for that moment. One lady told me, ‘It’s like your own private lullaby.'” Last New Year’s Eve, Sr. Marla asked Fr. Schumacher to sing the blessing into a recorder so she could play it for the parishes. She planned to play it July 31 and Aug. 1.

Fr. Richard Getchel, a friend for almost 35 years, knew most of Fr. Schumacher’s extensive family of nieces and nephews. “Since his retirement here in Green Bay,” Fr. Getchel recalled, “Fr. Paul made it a ritual to regularly visit all his nephews and nieces. To them, he was always ‘Fr. Paul,’ not ‘Uncle Paul.’

Fr. Getchel called Fr. Schumacher “a very good and faithful priest. He loved ministry, absolutely loved it.”

The funeral Mass was held at St. Matthew Church, which Fr. Getchel found appropriate.

“He was baptized there and received the sacraments there,” said Fr. Getchel, noting that the Schumacher family home was about three houses down the street from St. Matthew.

Fr. Schmacher is survived by a sister, Sr. Urban “Ann” Schumacher, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross at Bay Settlement; two brothers, Urban (Judy) Schumacher and Mark (Kay) Schumacher, both of Green Bay; sisters-in-law, June Schumacher and Marjorie Schumacher and brother-in-law, Don Zakowski, all of Green Bay. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

The funeral Mass was on Aug. 2 at St. Matthew with Bishop David L. Ricken as celebrant, Bishop Mark F. Schmitt and Fr. David Kiefer as concelebrants and Bishop Robert F. Morneau as homilist. Burial was in Allouez Catholic Cemetery. A memorial fund is being established.

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