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Weidinger, Frank T.

weidinger1Feb. 16, 2004
Camas, WA
Frank T. Weidinger died Feb. 16, 2004, at home in Camas. He was 86.

Frank was born March 26,1917, in Ballantine, MT. He grew up on the family farm and attended grade school and high school on the Huntley Project. After graduation in 1935, Frank went to Marquette University where he received a bachelor's degree. Frank then went to St. Edward's Seminary in Kenmore, WA, and was ordained a priest in June, 1944. He ministered to parishes in the Great Falls-Billings, MT, diocese for 30 years.

While pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Poplar, MT, (1946-50) Frank learned to fly which facilitated his trips to a mission church of St. Bernard in Charley Creek. By car his trip was two hours of rough driving, in his Piper Cub, fifteen minutes. Frank was a charter member of the National Association of Priest Pilots.

Frank's longest stint as pastor was at St. Gabriel's church, Chinook, MT, (1950-71), where he served for 21 years. He built the present church during his pastorate. Frank and the Lutheran pastor, Rev. Bruce Dahl, used to do ecumenical services together. The people of Chinook would have had FrWeidinger back at any time if the RC Church had allowed a married clergy.

In 1971, Frank was reassigned to St. Joseph Church in Great Falls, MT. During his tenure in Great Falls, Frank was chaplain to the Civil Air Patrol and he was active in the National Federation of Priests' Councils. He asked for a leave of absence in August, 1974. Frank then moved to Morden, Manitoba, where he worked in a nursing home. In January, 1975, he and Patricia Halla were married. They moved back to the states in 1976 with their six month old daughter, Mary Pat and settled in Camas, WA.

After moving to Camas, WA, Frank worked at Highland Terrace Nursing Home as an activity director. In 1977, he went to work for the Camas School District as a custodian a job he held until his retirement in 1994.

Frank was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996, and in Oct. 2000, he had a stroke. For the past few years Frank was confined to his wheel chair and in the last few months he was bedridden but continued to minister to others in his quiet, prayerful manner.

At Frank's funeral many attested to the way he had touched their lives. He is survived by his wife, Pat; a daughter, Mary Pat, and her husband, Chet; a sister, Helen Dietzman of Camas; and two brothers, Charles of Clovis, CA, and Gregory of Billings, MT, as well as two granddaughters, Kylie and Ava.

Pat’s Reflection

The night before the funeral we had a Vigil Service, which consisted of the Scriptural Rosary, Luminous Mysteries, as well as other prayers and songs. The presiders, Pam and Kevin Myles, related the mysteries of the rosary to Frank's life. Many present took the opportunity to tell how their lives had been touched by Frank, in his quiet, peaceful way. Before the final hymn, "Soon and Very Soon", we sang Frank's theme song, "Home on the Range". It was a little difficult to sing, seeing Frank lying there in the casket but again the realization of his happiness led to ours as we sang, "Soon and Very Soon" and clapped as we sang. The Consolation Ministry at St. Thomas served refreshments after the service.

The funeral was celebrated on February 20, at St. Thomas Church. Our former pastor, Rev. Ronald Belisle, was celebrant and our pastor, Rev. Derek Lappe concelebrated. There were also many members of the Umbrella Group (Portland/Vancouver noncanonical priests) present. School personnel that Frank had worked with were in attendance along with many other friends and family.

weidinger2Because nature was so important to Frank, the readings we chose as well as the memorial cards spoke of this love of his. The service opened with the hymn, "Come Unto Me". The first reading was from Is. 25:6-9; Responsorial Psalm 27; the second reading was I Cor. 13:1-8, 13; the Gospel, the Transfiguration. In his homily Fr. Belisle talked about the bittersweet qualities of death. The offertory gifts were brought to the altar by our daughter, Mary Pat, and her family. A number of people remarked how touching it was to see them carrying baby, Ava. "Salve Regina" was sung in Latin for the offertory hymn. Before the final hymn "How Great Thou Art" we sang the theme song again. David Dahl, son of Rev. Bruce Dahl who had served with Frank in Chinook, MT, delivered a eulogy. Later in the day I received a letter from Pastor Dahl . The message was about Frank and it contained the same thoughts that were in the comments that David had given.

As we were leaving the Church three jets flew over. I said it was in honor of Frank but my nephew pointed out, "No, Frank was a peaceful person. Those are instruments of war." The bittersweet that Father spoke of in his homily. Burial took place at the Camas cemetery, which is up the hill from St. Thomas. The day was perfect in every way, from the weather to the sense of celebration of a life well lived. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man!

We had a luncheon served by ladies of the parish. One of our friends, Blaise Feeney, brought some Pisano wine for the luncheon because he said, "You can't have a celebration for Frank without Pisano." There were many pictures of Frank's life displayed on a board our nieces had prepared. We also had a video of his life which played continuously during the luncheon.

Frank's two brothers Charles and wife, Wilma, and Gregory were here for the funeral. Helen, Frank's sister, lives here in Camas. My sister and brother-in-law came from Chicago. There were also a number of nieces and nephews present.

It's hard to go into the empty room but my spirits are lifted when I realize that now Frank is whole, vibrant and happy. He is reaping the reward for which he lived his whole life while witnessing to the love and goodness of God.