Bio: Gasper, Rev. Peter L. (1850 – 19??)
Surnames: Gasper, Lochen, Heiss, Gaellweiler, Katzer, Messmer, Brennan
----Source: History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens, by Louis Marchetti, 1913.
Gasper, Rev. Peter L. (16 May 1850 – 19??)
REV. PETER L. GASPER, pastor of St. Mary's Church, Wausau, Wis., is a native of Prussia, born May 16, 1850, in Schoenecker, Kreis Pruem, Reg. Bez. Treves a son of Peter and Catherine (Lochen) Gasper, also natives of Prussia. They were the parents of six children all deceased except the oldest, Henry, still living in Prussia, and the youngest, Peter L., the subject of this biography. The father, who was a locksmith by trade, died in 1851, the mother in 1859.
Father Gasper received his elementary education in the parochial school of his native village, afterward learning the trade of locksmith with his elder brothers. In 1869 he came to the United States, and for about a year worked at his trade at Pittsburgh, Penn., at the end of which time he entered St. Vincent's College, Westmoreland County, Penn., where he commenced studying for the priesthood. He remained in that institution until the year 1878, when he went to St. Francis Seminary near Milwaukee, Wis., where he completed his studies and was ordained priest in 1880, by the late Rt. Rev. Bishop Heiss. Our subject's first charge was as .assistant priest in the cathedral at Green Bay, Wis., where he remained seven months, then for a time assisted Rev. Father Gaellweiler, at Chilton, Wis., after which he was transferred to Jericho, Calumet Co. Wis., where he had charge of St. Trinity Congregation for two years and where he erected a new church building. In 1883 he was again transferred; this time to Lebanon township, Waupaca Co., his stay there covering a period of six years, during which time he not only attended to the spiritual welfare of the Catholic people of Northport, Manawa, Weyauwega and of course Lebanon but also made numerous improvements in the church edifices in those localities. In 1889 he was transferred to New London, Wis., where he erected the handsome and commodious church of the Most Precious Blood, the cornerstone of which was laid June 24, 1890, by Rt. Rev. Fred Katzer, bishop of Green Bay, and consecrated to the worship of God, February 12, 1891. It is a large and imposing edifice of solid brick 126 x 52 feet with a bell tower 140 feet high. During his administration in New London, Father Gasper also erected a fine church in Hortonville, the building of which was commenced in 1893 and dedicated with imposing ceremonies by Rt. Rev. Seb. Messmer, June 18, 1893.
In August, 1894, he was appointed rector of St. Mary's Church. Wausau, Wis., his present charge which at that time consisted of about 400 families. In 1895 Rt. Rev. Bishop Messmer made him dean for the counties of Lincoln, Marathon, Portage and Wood as far as they were situated within the limits of the Diocese of Green Bay. He found his new congregation encumbered with a heavy mortgage and paying 6% interest, which he at once converted into bonds bearing only 4% and this, enabled him to lessen the debts continually. In 1898 he built the beautiful home for the School Sisters, who up to this time had lived in the school-house. Great improvements were made in the school-house and new school rooms opened: a pipe organ for the church was also bought during the course of this year.
In 1902 the church was decorated very beautifully and equipped with gas and electric light. In 1904 the present parsonage, a large and commodious brick building, costing $8,000 was erected and a steam-heating plant for church and school installed and other improvements made which raised the indebtedness again to $8,500 but which was lessened every year until 191 1 when all was liquidated. In 1912 a new pipe organ costing $3,050 was installed in the church and paid for, still leaving almost $1,000 in the treasury of the congregation.
In the year 1906 when the limits of the dioceses were changed Marathon Co. was annexed to the diocese of La Crosse and consequently with it St. Mary’s congregation with its pastor. In the same year a large number of families separated and formed the new St. James Congregation with Rev. J. J. Brennan as its first rector. On account of this separation the number of families was considerably decreased but Wausau being a thriving city both congregations are as large now as St. Mary's was before the separation and are continually growing. The number of pupils in school is over 400 with nine Sisters of Notre Dame as their teachers.
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