Father Charles J. Hiebl
On Saturday October 2, 2021, Father Charles J. Hiebl (Colby) entered eternal life, just five days after his 85th birthday. Born September 27, 1936, to George and Anna (Krupka) Hiebl, he was the fourth of eight children. He is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Delores and brothers Lawrence and Joseph. Surviving family are Anthony (Marlene), Agnes (Glen) Paul, James (Elaine), Mary (Lueder Finken) and sister-in-law Illa Hiebl. Additionally survived by nieces and nephews and other relatives.
Father Hiebl, born in Marathon County, Town of Johnson lived and worked on the family farm. He received his elementary education in the Corinth school, a one-room school two-and-one half miles from home. Walking or biking to school most of the time was routine.
He entered Holy Cross Seminary in LaCrosse, WI in the fall of 1950. Graduating from Holy Cross, he then entered the theological seminary, Loras College in Dubuque, IA. It was while at Loras, that he developed his love for Amtrak trains since that was his mode of transportation from Dubuque to home. That love continued for years. During summers, it was common for him head west to Montana on Amtrak for rest and retreat. Just within three weeks of his passing, he still recalled those trips.
After four years at the theological seminary, he was ordained a priest on May 19, 1962, at St Joseph Cathedral in La Crosse and celebrated his first mass May 20 at his home parish, St. Thomas Milan, WI. Just weeks after his ordination, he already performed priestly duties as celebrant at his cousin’s wedding.
The value of working for a common good and contributing his part to it came early in life as he worked on the family farm doing chores and working within the family. While on summer breaks back home, he worked in a pea vinery in Athens. A work ethic was engrained in from a young age and pervaded his diocesan assignments.
Somewhere along the way, he became a lover of classical music and public radio, perhaps much to the chagrin of his younger brothers and sisters who endured it while riding with him. Also, sometime in life he became interested in cooking, perhaps out of necessity (or his wonderful independent spirit) when parishes had no housekeeper. He pursued that interest, talked about recipes, and welcomed new ideas that he could experiment with. He loved carving the turkey at family events, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was common for him to contribute a homemade specialty to family reunions and gatherings.
While pastor at St. Anthony’s in Athens, he displayed his knack for gardening by planting a garden of colorful annuals at the entrance to the church. It popped with color.
Father Hiebl’s first assignment was as an Assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Stevens Point. Two years later he was assigned as a full-time teacher at Pacelli High School residing with the Christian Brothers in Stevens Point.
He wore many hats as the area coordinator of religious education, teacher training and area coordinator of adult Christian education, the Chaplain of the Portage County Home and weekend assistant at St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point. Being coordinator of religious education was a matter of great pride for him as he talked about it at length just as recently as September 4th, 2021. In the years that followed, he also became the Chaplain of the Serra Club and the area Boy Scout Chaplain in Stevens Point. Father Hiebl spent the summer of 1968 studying theology at the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. He was assigned as an Instructor of Religion at Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids from 1970-1979. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was the Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Altdorf and Administrator of All Saint Parish in Babcock. In 1978 he was elected as the Associate Dean of the Marshfield Deanery and was noted for his efforts to foster unity and reduce parish debt.
From 1979-1983, he was assigned as an Associate Pastor at St. Bronislava Parish in Plover. From 1982-1985, he was the Dean of the Stevens Point Deanery and became the Pastor of St. Bronislava Parish in 1983. Father Hiebl was assigned as the Pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Eau Claire in 1985. During his time at St. Patrick Parish, he became known for his attention to the sick and dying. From 1987-1993, he served as the Dean of the Eau Claire Deanery. In 1991, 1997, and 2000, he was elected to the Presbyteral Council for three-year terms. In 1996, he became the Pastor of the newly founded St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish in Southeastern Portage County with his residence at the rectory in Lanark. This new parish was the merger of Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Almond, St. Martin Parish in Buena Vista, St. John the Baptist Parish in Heffron, and St. Patrick Parish in Lanark. Father Hiebl was tasked with leading the parishioners toward the work of acquiring property in a suitable location for a new parish church. The new church would not be completed until 2004.
In 2000, he became the Pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish in Athens and Holy Family Parish in Poniatowski. In 2002, he was also made the Pastor of his home parish of St. Thomas in Milan. He became the Dean of the Wausau Deanery for a three-year in 2008. In 2011, he resigned as Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Poniatowski while retaining his care of souls at Athens and Milan. In 2013, he was granted the status of a Senior Priest. He continued to help out extensively in Clark and Marathon counties with residence at St. Bernard Rectory in Abbotsford. He later moved to The Waterford in Colby where he passed away.
Visitations will be at St Anthony Catholic Church, Athens on Friday October 8, 2021, from 4-8 pm and on Saturday October 9th from 9-10:45 a.m. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. The Most Rev. William Patrick Callahan, Bishop of the Diocese of LaCrosse will preside. Homilist will be the Very Rev. Brian Konopa. Burial to follow at St. Thomas Cemetery in Milan, WI.
Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, Athens, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.petersonkraemer.com
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