EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - An influential figure in the Catholic church, the health care community, and among people all across the Chippewa Valley has died.
Monsignor Edmund Klimek died Wednesday after experiencing complications after a recent fall. He was 85.
Father Klimek received many accolades on a local, state, and national level during his lifetime. He grew up on a farm in Arcadia, and graduated from St. Aloysius Grade School. He entered St. Francis Minor Seminary at age 15. In the fall of 1947, he went to St. Francis Major Seminary to receive philosophical and theological training.
About six years later, Father Klimek was ordained to the priesthood at La Crosse Holy Cross Seminary. Among his early assignments were assistant at St. Lawrence Parish in Wisconsin Rapids, instructor and athletic director at Assumption High School in Wisconsin Rapids, administrator of Holy Rosary Parish at Sigel, and Pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Independence. He oversaw the building of a new $500,000 elementary school for SS. Peter and Paul, and parishioners commissioned an oil portrait of him to be displayed inside.
In 1969, Father Klimek was appointed administrator of St. Bridget's Parish in Springfield, and Chaplain at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. At the hospital, he created the Department of Pastoral Care, and appointed its Director. He once said that it "should be a bridge between the hospital and the patient's church." He held that role for nine years before resigning and becoming Senior Priest Chaplain.
Father Klimek was appointed Diocesan Coordinator of Health Affairs for the Diocese of La Crosse in 1972. 13 years later, he and the late Father Lawrence Dunklee started serving as co-coordinators for the diocese, and continued until Father Dunklee died in 2011. Father Klimek resigned from the appointment later that year.
In 1989, Father Klimek Helped to develop Sacred Heart's bereavement center, The Healing Place. It provides an outreach service for the community in helping those who have lost loved ones. Pope Benedict XVI named Father Klimek "Monsignor," a member of the Papal Household, in 2005.
In June of this year, Father Klimek was honored with the Catholic Health Association's "Lifetime Achievement Award," which is typically reserved for influential Catholic health care executives. He recently marked 60 years as a priest, and 45 at Sacred Heart Hospital.
Funeral arrangements are pending.