Wisconsin Rapids Deanery

of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin

Father Thomas J. Rudolph 

Father Thomas J. Rudolph, at the age of 76 and a priest for 51 years, died on Friday, September 14, 2012, in Bakerville, Wisconsin.

Father Rudolph was born on September 19, 1935, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Ralph and Marie (née Wester) Rudolph. He attended Holy Trinity Elementary School and Aquinas High School, both in La Crosse; the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa; and St. John Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts.

Father Rudolph was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of La Crosse on February 4, 1961, in Christ the King Chapel of Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse by the Most Reverend John P. Treacy, Bishop of La Crosse.

On February 16, 1961, Father Rudolph reported to his first assignment as assistant to Father Chester Zielinski, Pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, and also as part-time instructor at Assumption High School there. In August 1962 he was appointed full-time instructor at Assumption with continued residence at St. Lawrence.

In June 1963 he was appointed full-time instructor at Newman High School in Wausau with residence at St. James Parish.

Effective June 22, 1965, he was appointed assistant to Father Edwin Thome, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Stratford.

On March 5, 1969, he was appointed assistant to Father Peter Butz, Pastor of Saint Pius X Parish in La Crosse.

June 19, 1969, Father Rudolph was appointed assistant to Father James Ennis, Pastor of St. Therese Parish at Schofield.

On January 3, 1973, Father Rudolph began his first pastorate at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Keyesville, with the mission parish of St. Kilian, Bear Valley.

On April 3, 1974, Father Rudolph was appointed pastor of St. Matthew Parish at Wausau.

He was then appointed pastor of St. Joachim Parish at Pittsville and Administrator of North American Martyrs Mission Parish at City Point-Spaulding in November 1975. During his tenure the new church was built at Pittsville.

Father Rudolph’s next assignment was as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish at Edgar, 1983-1995; during this period he also served as pastor of Holy Family Parish at Poniatowski from 1988-1993.

On August 3, 1995, he was appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish at Stratford and St. Andrew Parish at Rozellville, where he served until he was granted the status of senior priest on May 31, 2010.

Father Rudolph also served two terms on the Presbyteral Council from 1997 to 2003.

In retirement Father Rudolph lived at St. Joachim Rectory at Pittsville and later at Corpus Christi Rectory in Bakerville.

The Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Church, Stratford, on Wednesday, September 19, at 11 a.m., with Father Joseph Diermeier, Vicar General, presiding. There was visitation at the church on Tuesday, September 18, from 5 to 7 p.m., with Evening Prayer at 7 p.m.; and on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until the Mass. Burial was next to his parents in the Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse.

The Diocese of La Crosse and the family were assisted by the Sauter-Rembs Funeral Home in Stratford.

Father Rudolph was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by one sister, Donna Murphy; and two brothers, Gregory and James.  

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