ALLOUEZ — During his 44 years of active ministry, Fr. Francis “Frank” Kerscher served at parishes throughout the diocese, which suited him just fine. In fact, when asked about his vocation, the Two Rivers native specified that he was called to be a “parish priest.”
“I wouldn’t have thought to do anything else,” he said during an interview with The Compass marking his 50th jubilee. “They were all nice places. I enjoyed it. When you were told you were moving, you never said anything. You just did it.”
Fr. Kerscher, 84, died Oct. 4 at St. Mary’s Home at Felician Village, Manitowoc.
The journey to the priesthood began at a young age for Fr. Kerscher. He was raised by his maternal grandmother, Teresa Kerscher. His mother, Veronica (Kerscher) Schwers died when he was only a day old. His maternal grandparents adopted him, but his grandfather, Frank Kerscher, died when he was only 4 years old. His father, Raymond Schwers, visited him on weekends during his youth.
While growing up, Fr. Kerscher looked up to his cousin, Fr. Francis Rose. He attended Fr. Rose’s first Mass in 1939. Fr. Kerscher’s interest in becoming a priest led to gathering neighborhood kids to play church.
“We used a sewing machine,” he said. “We would open it up and use it as an altar.”
Following high school and junior college at St. Nazianz, Fr. Kerscher attended St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1955, by Bishop Stanislaus Bona at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay. His first three appointments were as an assistant pastor at St. John, Antigo; Ss. Peter and Paul, Green Bay; and St. John Nepomucene, Little Chute. His first pastorate was at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Goodman in 1966. Three years later, he was appointed pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Kellnersville.
Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Kiel, was his longest appointment: 12 years. He served from 1984 to 1989 at St. Joseph, Champion; St. Odile, Thiry Daems; St. Martin, Tonet; and St. Amand, Walhain. His last assignment prior to becoming a senior priest was at St. John, Seymour, where he served for 10 years.
Retirement in 1999 brought Fr. Kerscher home to Two Rivers. He assisted by celebrating Masses at parishes in the Manitowoc area. Fr. Kerscher then moved to Grellinger Hall in Green Bay before residing at St. Mary’s Home.
He is survived by three cousins, Rosemary (Leroy) Borths and Jean Baily, both of Two Rivers, and Alice Kanzenbach of Green Bay.
The funeral Mass was celebrated on Oct. 9 at St. Peter the Fisherman Church, Two Rivers. Bishop David Ricken officiated. Bishops Robert Banks and Robert Morneau concelebrated. Fr. Richard Mauthe served as the homilist. Entombment followed at Allouez Catholic Cemetery and Chapel Mausoleum.