Father Robert Francis Pedretti, at the age of 82, and a priest for nearly 57 years, died May 26, 2021, at Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Robert Pedretti was born October 18, 1938, in Genoa, Wisconsin the son of Albert Joseph and Helen (née Venner) Pedretti. His first three years of education were at St. Charles Borromeo School in Genoa, Wisconsin. He then went to St. John the Baptist Elementary School in La Crosse for the fourth and fifth grades, Oak Grove Elementary School in the Township of Onalaska for grade six. He returned to St. John the Baptist School for grade seven. For the first semester his eighth grade, he attended Holmen Elementary School in Holmen, and the second semester he studied at St. Patrick Elementary School in Onalaska. His high school and college studies and formation were at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse. He then went to St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville to study theology. Bishop John Patrick Treacy ordained him a priest at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse on May 30, 1964.
Father Pedretti’s first assignment was as an Assistant at Sacred Heart Church in Nekoosa and as part-time instructor at Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids. In the summer of 1967, he began preparatory studies for missionary work in Latin America by primarily studying Spanish in Cuernavaca Mexico, and then he studied Spanish for a semester at the Lorrain Inter American Center at the University of Puerto Rico at Ponce. In January 1968, he was assigned as an Assistant at Holy Cross Parish in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. While in Bolivia he also studied Spanish in Cochabama and the Pastoral Institute in Sucre. He remained assigned to Holy Cross Parish until July 1975, when he was assigned as the Associate Pastor of the Newman Center in Stevens Point for seven months. In February 1976, he was assigned as the Pastor of St. James in Amherst, and in 1986 he also served St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Fancher. He continued to serve these two parishes until he was granted the status of a Senior Priest on January 1, 2009. He then lived at his home in the Village of Amherst and offered Mass in the area.
In 1989, on the occasion of his 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, Father Pedretti offered the following reflection in the Catholic Times newspaper:
“To think of the priesthood is to think of Christ. As I remember and give thanks to God for the call to the priesthood, I recognize how blessed I have been in my parents and family and the parish communities I grew up in and have served as a priest. We share a love for Christ the Priest.
The strength and joy of the ordained priest is to see people changed through the freeing and life-giving touch of Christ. In the parish, classroom,
Bolivian jungle or at the deathbed, the priest is an instrument of new and abundant life that Christ offers.”
Father Pedretti was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Dennis and Father Raymond, his sister Jean (David) Flottmeyer. He is survived by his siblings Lucille Pedretti, Rita Llorca, and Earl (Ruth) Pedretti, his sister-in-law Cate Pedretti, and many nieces and nephews.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Fancher on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 11 o’clock with a visitation two hours prior to the Mass. The Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan will be the main celebrant. The burial will follow at St. James Cemetery in Amherst.
There will also be a visitation held at St. James Church in Amherst on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. with a 6:00 p.m. Vigil Service led by Monsignor Joseph G. Diermeier.
Jungers-Holly Funeral Home in Amherst is assisting with arrangements.