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Big River pastor marks 50th year since ordination

RIVER FALLS—Fr. Bill Matzek of St. Mary’s at Big River Catholic Church advises telling the truth. Truth is, Matzek celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest in late May. He said Wednesday there was a special mass at the church and a reception at the adjacent school hall, complete with a fellowship time and a meal.

“I saw people I hadn’t seen in years,” he said.

Likewise, by this time in his priesthood, he gets Christmas cards from all over, Matzek said. They come from people whose weddings he’s conducted or members of families for whom he’s performed funerals. In truth, he seemed a bit reluctant about all the attention, yet was gratified to be remembered.

His heart seems to be here—where his home is. He said he grew up on a farm just south of the church, one in a family of 12 children born to Raymond and Irene Matzek. There were nine boys and three girls.

As a youth, he knew he wanted to become a priest.

“I even asked my parents if I could go to seminary when I was done with eighth grade,” he said, recalling they encouraged him to try high school instead.

After a year at Prescott High School, he entered the seminary in La Crosse, he said. He spent eight years at Holy Cross, comparing it to being in high school and college. Then, he went to St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, where he further trained to be a priest.

For more please read the July 3 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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