Cover photo for Father Gerald LaPatka's Obituary
1927 Father 2020

Father Gerald LaPatka

July 20, 1927 — April 18, 2020

Father Gerald J. LaPatka, age 92, of Willmar and formerly of Duluth, passed away from this life peacefully on Saturday afternoon, April 18, at the Bethesda Grand Nursing Home in Willmar.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 18, at the Church of St. Mary in Willmar.  Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery in Virginia, Minnesota at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 19, with military honors.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service on Thursday at the Church of St. Mary.  Memorials are preferred to the Catholic United Financial Foundation, c/o  MSGR. Richard J. Schueler Seminarian Fund, 3499 Lexington Ave. N., St. Paul, MN  55126-9989.  Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar.

Father Gerald "Gerry" John  LaPatka was born on July 20, 1927, in Virginia, Minnesota, the son of Thomas and Mabel (Ridgewell) LaPatka.  He grew up in Virginia and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Virginia.  From 1945 to 1947, he served in the U.S. Army.  Following his honorable discharge, he attended Mesabi Junior College and St. John's University in Collegeville.  He studied philosophy and theology at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and did advanced study at North American College in Rome.  Father Gerald was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Duluth on June 2, 1956, by Bishop Thomas A. Welch at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Duluth.

His pastoral service to the Diocese of Duluth includes the parishes of St. Anthony in Ely; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Cloquet; Good Shepherd in Duluth; St. Anthony in Duluth; St. Joseph in Beroun; Mission Lakewood in Duluth; St. Joseph in Gnesen; St. Casimir in Cloquet; Immaculate Conception in Cromwell-Wright; St. Alice in Pequot Lakes; St. Christopher in Nisswa; Our Lady of Lourdes in Pine River; Sacred Heart in Hackensack; St. Agnes in Walker; Sacred Heart Cathedral in Duluth; St. Mary in Silver Bay; Mission at Taconite Harbor; St. Martin in Tower; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Buhl; St. Joseph in Chisolm; St. Benedict in Duluth and St. Lawrence in Duluth.

Additional areas of service include as director of the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood; director of Propagation of the Faith; chaplain for Catholic Girls at Bethel Home; religion teacher at Stanbrook Hall and Cathedral High School; episcopal vicar, senator-consultor; coordinator of chancery matters; Presbyteral Council; clergy member for Renew Core Team at the Pastoral Center; sisters confessor; dean of Duluth Deanery; charismatic liaison; assistant spiritual director of Cursillo; and spiritual director of Magnifcat.

Father LaPatka was the assistant pastor at St. Anthony in Ely when the church and rectory were built in 1956.  He retired from the Diocese of Duluth in 1998 and then served in pastoral care at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, AZ for over 15 years.

Father LaPatka enjoyed all types of music and art, traveling and doing magic tricks.

He is survived by one brother, George (and Ann) LaPatka of Willmar; numerous nieces and nephews, besides other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and four brothers, James ( in 1945 in Germany during WW II), Lawrence (in 1989), David (in 2003) and Thomas (in 2004).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Father Gerald LaPatka, please visit our flower store.


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