Fr. Gerald Hammeke
Father Gerald "Jerry" Hammeke, 78, whose death in the infirmary at the Dominican Convent in Great Bend, "marks something of a passing of an era for us," Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore told those gathered at the Mass of Christian Burial. Father Hammeke, who was ordained May 3, 1952, at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in North Ellinwood, was the first priest ordained for the Diocese of Dodge City, and the first ordained by Most Rev. John B. Franz.When I look at my years with Father Hammeke, I find myself thinking of a very simple thing GÇö movement," Bishop Gilmore said. "He was already retired when I came here, but I would hear about him everywhere.GÇªHe was a great, great blessing to the priests of the diocese," he added, explaining that Father Hammeke was willing to go "anywhere and everywhere" to be a substitute for priests who were ill or out of town. "He was a blessing to the retired priests. He was so attentive to them.In the final months before his death, Father Hammeke had lost his ability to live independently. He was no longer able to walk or to speak. And yet, Bishop Gilmore said, "We knew the Lord was slowly, lovingly remaking that bodyGÇª.GÇÿWhere I am,GÇÖ the Lord said, GÇÿthere will my servant be.GÇÖ Where is the Lord? The Lord is in eternal life, where all movement draws its name. We pray today that our man of movement will move now according to the mysterious secret of the LordGÇÖs own movement.Father Hammeke was born Dec. 29, 1927, in Claflin, the son of Joseph and Mary Heinz Hammeke. He attended grade school at Sts. Peter and Paul, North Ellinwood, and high school and college at Salvatorian Seminary in St. Naziana, Wisc. He took his philosophy and theology training at St. Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, Ind.He served as an assistant at St. Rose of Lima, Great Bend, and Sacred Heart Cathedral, Dodge City, before receiving his first pastorate.His pastorates included: St. PatrickGÇÖs, Plains (1956-62); St. Joseph, Offerle, and St. MaryGÇÖs, Hodgeman County (1962-65); St. Bernard, Belpre (1965-68); Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City (1968-74); St. John the Evangelist, Hoisington (1974-80); St. Patrick, Great Bend (1980-91); St. Stanislaus, Ingalls (1991); St. John the Baptist, Spearville; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Windthorst, (1991-97), and later St. Mary, Hodgeman County (1994-97). During his pastorate at St. Patrick, Great Bend, he started an endowment fund for the parish school.He retired to his home in Great Bend in 1997. He moved to the Dominican Convent in 2005, where he offered Mass for the Sisters from his wheelchair.In addition to his numerous pastoral and diocesan positions, Father Hammeke served as state chaplain for the Knights of Columbus (1980-82). Survivors include: a brother, Alfred, and his wife Sue, Claflin; sister, Geraldine M. "Jerry"; and 17 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Norman and Dennis.Information obtained from the Diocese of Dodge City online, www.dcdiocese.org "