Father Ambrose John Blenker, at the age of 83 and a priest for 57 years, died Tuesday, October 1, 2019, at the Arborview Court retirement home in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.
Ambrose Blenker was born March 10, 1936, in Milan, Wisconsin to John and Marguerite (Hoffman) Blenker. He attended Milan Rural School and began his freshman year of high school seminary in “the castle” at 1419 Cass Street in La Crosse. He then completed his high school and college studies at the brand new Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse. He earned a Master of Arts degree in theological studies at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. On May 19, 1962, he was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse by the Most Reverend John P. Treacy. This new cathedral had only been dedicated five days earlier.
Father Blenker’s first assignment began two weeks after ordination as an Assistant at St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in Colby. Five years later, he was assigned as the Assistant at Holy Trinity in La Crosse. During his assignment at Holy Trinity Parish, he took summer courses in Sacred Scripture and a course in counseling. Father Blenker was assigned as an Assistant at St. James the Greater Parish in Eau Claire in September 1969 until he took a leave of absence in January 1971. In July 1975, he became the Associate Pastor at St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point. The next year, Father Blenker became the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Gays Mills and in October 1979, he was assigned the Pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish in Cazenovia. In 1982, he also became the administrator of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Yuba while remaining the Pastor at St. Anthony Parish. In June 1988, Father Blenker was assigned as the Pastor of Holy Name Parish in Wausau. In May 1993, he was assigned Pastor of St. Henry Parish in Eau Galle and in July 1995, he moved to Plum City to become the Pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish while remaining the Pastor in Eau Galle for a few more months.
Father Blenker was granted senior priest status on July 1, 2011. As a senior priest, he lived in Plum City and Holy Cross Diocesan Center in La Crosse. In September 2016, he moved to Arborview Court in Wisconsin Rapids for assisted care and memory care.
Father Blenker was a lifetime member of the United States Chess Federation. He played in two U.S. Open Chess Championships, two National Opens at the International Chess Festival, one World Open Chess Tournaments and many Wisconsin State Chess Championships, yet he never won a championship. He played and won many posted chess tournaments. He was well known for picking berries, baking pies, and enjoying parish dinners.
Father Ambrose Blenker was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his sisters Eloise (Earl) Heil, Lucy Vaughan, and Kathleen Schug. He is also survived by his brothers Gerald and Raymond, and several nieces and nephews.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Kilian Church in Blenker, Wisconsin on Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. The Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan will be the main celebrant and Reverend Charles J. Hiebl will be the homilist. Burial will follow in the parish cemetery.
Visitation will be held at Ritchay Funeral Home in Wisconsin Rapids on Wednesday, October 9 from 5:00-8:00 p.m., with the rosary prayed at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a visitation at the church from 10 o’clock until the time of the Mass on Thursday.
The Diocese of La Crosse is being assisted by Ritchay Funeral Home in Wisconsin Rapids.