As president of national chaplains’ group, Deacon Charlier met Pope John Paul II

By | January 17, 2013

Deacon Charlier, 81, died Jan. 6. The funeral Mass was held on Jan. 11 at Prince of Peace Church, Green Bay. Bishop Robert Morneau was the celebrant and Fr. Ron Belitz served as the homilist.

Deacon Charlier was born in Coleman on Christmas Day in 1931, following the birth of his twin, Harold. He was one of 13 children of the late Camille and Irene (Belongia) Charlier. The family moved to Milwaukee when Deacon Charlier was 11. He and his wife, Lois, met as teens at a neighborhood social center.

Deacon Charlier served in the Navy for four years and worked as an aircraft mechanic, steamfitter and insurance agent. He felt a call to ministry at the time of his mother’s death and began studying Scripture and started writing a column for The Register, the diocesan newspaper at the time. He was ordained to the diaconate on Feb. 28, 1976, by Bishop Aloysius Wycislo, and was first assigned to St. Mary of the Angels Parish, Green Bay. He would later serve as a deacon at St. Mary Parish, Ledgeview.

In 1981, Deacon Charlier, who had completed clinical pastoral education training with Fr. Dave Baeten, accepted the position of pastoral care director at Mercy Hospital in Urbana, Ill. In 1989, he returned to the diocese to serve in the same position at St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay. Deacon Charlier was not only certified as a chaplain, but served as president of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) both regionally and nationally. His work with the association led to him meeting Pope John Paul II in St. Louis.

“I was the first married person to be president of the NACC,” he said. “They called Lois the first lady. That was an exciting time.”

Deacon Charlier retired from full-time ministry as a deacon in 2001. Lois died on March 29, 2004. The couple had been married for 50 years. Deacon Charlier stayed active at Prince of Peace Parish, including facilitating a grief support program for men. In recent years, he had developed a soap donation effort for the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein.

In addition to Lois and his parents, Deacon Charlier was preceded in death by siblings: Bernice (Shallow), Cecile (Platek), Adeline (Beck), Norma (Beck), Roger and Henry. He is survived by his five children: Jeanne Lebish, Jim, Brian (Tammy), Christine (Carl) Gustke and Dean (Sue); 11 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. Also surviving are his brothers, Harold (Cathy), Donald (Sheri) and Camille Jr. (Janet); sisters, Marie Kloss, Carol (Bill) Heinen; and Rosalie (Bob) Korman; numerous nieces and nephews.

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