Father A. Joseph Follmar, at the age of 87 and a priest for 58 years, died Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at his sister Rose’s home in New Lenox, Illinois.
Ambrose Joseph Follmar was born December 20, 1932 in the Jamaica neighborhood on Long Island in New York City to Ambrose J. and Dorothy (Heinrichs) Follmar. His family lived on Losey Boulevard in La Crosse when Joseph attended Holy Cross Seminary in “the castle” at 1419 Cass Street in La Crosse for four years of high school. He was a member of the first philosophy class at the brand new Holy Cross Seminary on the south side of La Crosse. Joseph then completed his college and theology studies at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. He was ordained a deacon on September 13, 1958, and then a priest May 9, 1959, both at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse.
first priestly assignments were as Temporary Assistant at St. Joseph Parish in
Adams, St. Joseph Parish in Prescott, and St. Joseph Parish in Galloway. Less than seven months after ordination, he received
his fourth priestly assignment as the Assistant at St. Mary Parish in Durand
and part-time instructor at St. Mary Junior High School in Durand. In August 1962, he began teaching at Columbus
High School in Marshfield with residence at St. Joseph Hospital that included
regular duties at the hospital and weekend help-out at St. John the Baptist
Parish in Marshfield. In June 1963,
Father Follmar was assigned Assistant at St. Stephen Parish in Stevens Point
until August 1966 when he was assigned Assistant at St. Mary (Immaculate
Conception) Parish in Tomah and Associate Director of Migrant Workers. The next summer, he was appointed Assistant
at St. Patrick in Sparta while continuing his work with migrant workers. In August 1968, he was assigned Assistant at
SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Independence.
In August 1970, Father Follmar was assigned Chaplain at the Provincial
House of the School Sisters of St. Joseph- Third Order of St. Francis,
(SSJ-TOSF) in Stevens Point while also being assigned Instructor at Pacelli
High School. In May 1973, he became the
Pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Lanark with part-time teaching responsibilities
at Pacelli High School. In February 1976,
he also became the Administrator of St. Martin Parish in Buena Vista until
January 1977 when he continued as Pastor of St. Patrick Parish and was also assigned
as Auditor in the Matrimonial Tribunal.
In June 1977, Father Follmar became the Pastor of St. Mary Parish in
Bangor while continuing his role as Auditor.
In July 1984, he was assigned as Pastor at St. James in La Crosse and also
served two terms on the Clergy Personnel Board and a term on the Presbyteral
Council. In 1996, he was assigned as the
Pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in Greenwood and Holy Family
Parish in Willard where he remained until he was granted senior priest status
on July 2, 2013.
As a senior priest, he resided in Greenwood before moving to Manhattan, Illinois where generously helped out at St. Joseph Parish as well as other area parishes.
Father Follmar was fascinated with trains and very fond of collies. As a seminarian, he was able to obtain a discounted pass for train travel. As a priest, he published several articles and at least three books focusing on railroad activity in Wisconsin. In 1973, he was instrumental in establishing the Chicago & North Western Railroad Historical Society.
Father A. Joseph Follmar was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Sister Mary Ann Follmar. He is survived by his sister Rose Jurgens of New Lenox, Illinois, nephew Kurt Jurgens of New Lenox and his wife Laura, and their children Moriah, Kiah, Nadia, Olivia, Aiden, and Luci, nephew Erik Jurgens of New Lenox, his wife Amy and their children Alexandra, Molly, Theodore, and Elizabeth, niece Kari Ropers of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and her husband Mike.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2020 from 2-4 p.m. at Forsythe Gould Funeral Home in Manhattan, Illinois. In accord with Coronavirus Health Directives, a private Mass of Christian Burial, by invitation only, will be celebrated at Blessed Sacrament Church in La Crosse at 11:00 a.m. Monday, March 30, 2020. A single unattended camera will record the Mass which can be viewed live at the website diolc.org/live and will remain available for viewing on the website for a short time thereafter. Reverend R. John Swing will be the celebrant and homilist. Burial will follow in Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse.
Requiescat in pace!