Rev. William Joseph Matzek

Rev. William Joseph Matzek, 79, of Big River (rural River Falls), WI, died Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at United Hospital, St. Paul, MN.

Fr. Bill was born on June 7, 1936 the third child of Raymond and Irene (Schommer) Matzek.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse on May 25, 1963. Fr. Bill celebrated his first Mass on May 26, 1963 at St. Mary’s, Big River. During Fr. Bill’s years as a priest he had the privilege of ministering to people in six parishes of the Diocese of La Crosse. His first appointment was as an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Peace in Marshfield, WI from 1963-1967, he later served as the assistant pastor at St. Hedwig’s in Thorp, WI from 1967-1971 and in 1971 he was assigned as the assistant pastor to St. Stanislaus Parish in Stevens Point until 1974. Fr. Bill’s first appointment as pastor was from 1974 until 1985 at St. Olaf’s in Eau Claire. In April of 1985, bishop John Paul assigned Fr. Bill as pastor to St. Patrick’s in Onalaska, WI for a little more than 20 years.

While at St. Patrick’s he assisted with the healing process after the death of Fr. John Rossiter. He also organized and worked with a Pastoral Team to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing faith community at St. Patrick’s from 1200 families in 1985 to over 1800 families in 2005. Fr. Bill was able to expand the church to accommodate the growing number of parishioners and to create a warm and inviting worship environment. He worked with the School System and CCD programs that encouraged the faith life of the young people. He encouraged active lay involvement in many aspects of parish life and promoted outreach to the poor through the SPEAR program – St. Patrick’s Emergency Assistance and Referral program.

He had no regrets, sometimes there were challenges to deal with, but with the help of many wonderful people he was able to cope and deal with them. Despite many challenges he faced there were many enjoyable times with good friends and family.

On June 20, 2005 Fr. Bill was assigned to St. Mary’s – Big River where he was pastor until his death on Tuesday. It is the parish where he grew up and where many of his family currently resides.

Fr. Bill loved traveling with friends and family. During his travels he went to Egypt and the Holy Land, walking where Jesus walked, also while on sabbatical he spent time in Italy and Prague. His favorite place to travel to was the Rocky Mountains. He enjoyed skiing, camping, hiking, canoeing, and riding bike on the many trails of Wisconsin and Minnesota while enjoying the beauty of nature.

Father Bill is survived by his brothers and sisters: Raymond (Janice); John (Joyce); Jeanette (James) Hovel; James (Sandra); Rita; Charles (Roseanne); Theresa (Robert) Goehring; Norman (Mary); David (Therese); Bernard (Nancy); Ron (Jane).

49 nieces and nephews; 106 great-nieces and nephews; 21 great-great nieces and nephews.

His parents and one nephew (Howard) preceded him in death.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00am, Monday, August 10, 2015 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Big River, WI (rural River Falls). Bishop William Patrick Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse will be the celebrant. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Visitation will be from 3:00pm until 7:00pm, with a prayer service at 7:00pm, on Sunday August 9, 2015 and for one hour prior to the Mass on Monday, all at the church.

In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred to the donor’s choice.

Cashman-Hill Funeral Home & Cremation Services, River Falls, WI is serving the family.

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