Deacon Robert Wavrunek dies; was active, with wife Christal, in rural life, parish ministry

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | January 18, 2017

ALLOUEZ — Deacon Robert Wavrunek, who served at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, Tisch Mills, and St. Therese de Lisieux Parish, Stangelville, died Jan. 9. Deacon Wavrunek, 63, was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop David Ricken on May 18, 2013, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay.

Deacon Wavrunek

Ministry for Deacon Wavrunek began during his teenage years while growing up in the Pilsen area. In 1969, at age 16, he began serving as a lector at Mass, a ministry he continued for 38 years.

Following graduation from high school, he worked at Denmark Farm Equipment and later at Camera Corner. In 1975, he married his wife, Christal. The couple purchased the family farm and joined St. Isidore the Farmer Parish. They both served in religious education. Deacon Wavrunek taught 10th grade faith formation, while Christal’s focus was confirmation.

When Deacon Wavrunek began formation for the diaconate, Christal accompanied him to classes and graduated from the Emmaus Lay Ministry Formation Program. Among the couple’s shared ministries was Communion service at the Kewaunee Care Center. Deacon Wavrunek led the prayer service and distributed the Blessed Sacrament to Catholic residents. Christal would play guitar and lead the residents in song. They grew the ministry by inviting volunteers to join them.

Farming and faith were connected for the Wavruneks, who were members of the Rural Life Committee for the diocese. The array of animals on the family farm in Zander included dairy cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, donkeys, horses and goats. Guests were often offered farm fresh eggs. Deacon Wavrunek also enjoyed sharing his animals with groups from the local schools.

During an interview with The Compass prior to his ordination, Deacon Wavrunek said that the animals and nature on the farm served as a reminder of God’s presence.

“With the animals, it’s life and death,” he said. “You count on God for the crops to grow. In 1988, we had a drought. You can be mad. Some people take it out on God because something doesn’t go right. There’s always a reason why things happen. We need to trust in God.”

He was also able to draw a comparison between farming and ministry.

“Through farming, you feed the world,” he said. “Now we can still feed the world, but maybe feed the soul a little bit as well.”

Deacon Wavrunek was preceded in death by his parents, Sylvester and Dorothy (Ebben) Wavrunek.

In addition to his wife of 41 years, Christal, he is survived by four children: Christopher (Jean) Wavrunek, Samuel (Scott) Wavrunek, Zachary (Beth) Wavrunek and Jessica (Thomas) Lambert; eight grandchildren: Seth, Aaron, Zoey, Ivy, Blake, Alexis, Remington and Gracyn; and six siblings: Daniel (Debra) Wavrunek, David Wavrunek, James (Josy) Wavrunek, Jean Wavrunek, Janet (friend Noah) Spitzer, Mary (Tom) Swagel and Catherine Wavrunek; and a brother-in-law, Scott Yanda.

The funeral Mass was celebrated on Jan. 13 at the St. Joseph-St. John site, Pilsen, of St. Therese Parish, the church where Deacon Wavrunek was baptized. Fr. Dennis Drury presided. Deacon Robert Miller served as deacon of the altar. Burial followed in St. Joseph Cemetery, Pilsen.

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