Father Ganss of St. Gall’s to retire

By on June 14, 2012

A Retirement Celebration and Reception for Father Karl Ganss
Saturday, June 23
immediately following Mass
and Sunday, June 24
immediately following the 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. masses
St. Gall’s Church Parish Hall
120 W. Shannon St.,

All are invited to celebrate
Father Karl’s last mass at St. Gall
at 11 a.m.
Light refreshments will be served

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Father Karl Ganss will retire after nine years at St. Gall’s Catholic Church in Elburn, and after a career of 44 years in the priesthood that spanned both education and ministry. As a parish priest, Ganss has seen both the community and the families of the parish grow.

“It’s been very, very rewarding to see the community growing,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the small-town flavor, and that it’s so pleasantly agriculturally-related. And when you work with families, you see the children grow up at all the intimate moments of their lives. At this stage, the ones I baptized I now see being married.”

Ganss grew up in south Philadelphia, the son of German immigrants. His father ran a bakery, making young Ganss popular with the other kids because he smelled of sweet cakes. He attended St. Henry School in a German parish founded by a priest from Germany who was sent to work with immigrants, and staffed by a group of sisters that had come from Germany.

“At that time in 1950, the prayers were in German. Even the Irish kids had to learn the prayers in German. The sisters were very dedicated. They had great fervor. They were expected to stay in their mission country for the rest of their lives. Vatican II changed that requirement,” he said.

The sisters had ties to Sacred Heart Mission Seminary in Geneva, and encouraged the students’ vocations there. That, along with the mentorship of an elderly priest and the dynamism of a young priest at St. Edmonds, influenced Ganss to go into seminary and move to Geneva. He said goodbye to south Philly and the neighborhood where Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Jimmy Durante also came from.

Ganss was ordained a priest in 1968, and was asked to teach on the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in Geneva, where he was once a student. He then went on to become the area director of religious education in McHenry and the superintendent of Catholic education.

After receiving his M.A. in history and a Ph.D in educational foundation from Loyola University, Ganss taught on the faculty of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. He held several positions, including pastoral assistant in Algonquin and Crystal Lake and associate pastor of Holy Angels in Aurora.

“I really wanted to do more related to ministry,” Ganss recalled. “I received a doctorate in ministry.”

His work at St. Gall’s has involved working to prepare for the new parish that will be built.

“It takes a lot of discernment. I’ve interviewed architects and done fund raising, but it’s not just a building and a church. It’s a spiritual call to build,” Ganss said.

The congregation has raised $4.6 million and will need to reach $7 million before they begin to build the church, starting with a small capacity and keeping the current buildings for the rectory and offices.

Ganss’s future after retirement will hold some familiar pursuits and some new adventures. He will offer his ministry assisting to churches in the area where the priest goes on vacation or is back to school. However, his adventureous side calls him to the high seas. He will serve as chaplin on cruise ships, something he’s done several times already.

“I’ve been on three Alaskan cruises, to the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the fjords. Over Christmas, I will go to Sydney and New Zealand,” he said. “Next, I’d like to go to South America from the Horn to Buenos Aires to the other side of South America.”

Father Ganss will retire from active ministry on June 30.