Monthly Archives: January 2015

EWTN to feature the life of Father Joseph Walijewski

Category : News

Scene at one of the several soup kitchens established by Father Joseph Walijewski. People from the neighborhood are waiting for lunch. This kitchen is directly behind St. Joseph’s Chapel in Villa El Salvador, the church wished for as one of Father Joseph Walijewski’s mother’s three wishes.

Inscription at the site of Cristo Salvador Parish, the first church established by Father Joseph Walijewski in Villa El Salvador, Peru, which reads ‘Place where Mass was celebrated on December 24, 1971 by Cardinal Juan Landazun recognizing Padre Jose Walijewski as the first pastor. In attendance were: nine children, five women, two men, and 15 dogs.

Expected to air in spring 2015, this 60 minute tribute to Father Joseph Walijewski’s life and ministry, produced and hosted by Bob Dolan of Bob Dolan Productions, is filled with many testaments to his charism. Tracing his life of devotion and dedication, this feature explores how God’s providence guided, and Father Joe’s humble service provided the necessary means to minister to those most vulnerable.

Father Joe spent most of his life in South America, but brought with him the cleverness of a Midwestern farm boy. His simple upbringing and can-do attitude allowed him to respond to those in need with extraordinary success. Despite the setbacks he experienced throughout his life, his faith remained strong and his devotion unwavering.

His story of faith and service gives us courage to confront situations placed in our lives, and the resolution to do something about it. Using the model of his life, we will be inspired to see Christ crucified in everyone we meet.

Bob Dolan, and Monsignor Hirsch are interviewing a Peruvian resident who knew Father Joseph Walijewski while he was living in Villa El Salvador.

Early Family Memories

Category : News

Father Joe and his great niece Joan, dancing on her wedding day, October 22, 1977.

By: Joan Isenbarger
Great Niece of Father Joseph Walijewski

As a child in the late 1960s, I remember visiting my great Aunt Alice and Uncle Charlie (brother of Fr. Joe) Walijewski’s home in Grand Rapids, Mich. Many family members would gather due to the fact that their siblings, Fr. Joe and Sister Noel, both working as missionaries in foreign lands, were in the states for a visit. While most of the adults were inside socializing, I recall the two of them being outside playing baseball with us kids. This is one memory that has always stuck with me. I thought they were pretty cool and thinking they seemed like real people! Fr. Joe always made us feel comfortable and loved by his good-humored personality whenever we were fortunate enough to be around him. He always had a special gift with children.

As I grew into my early high school years, Fr. Joe’s journey continued to touch my heart. I believe he made an impression on me by his real life stories that he shared. It was always so apparent that he loved his mission in life. I would write to him every Easter and Christmas, just to keep in touch. I never really expected him to reply, knowing how busy he was taking care of the needs of others, but on occasion he would drop me a quick note. I once was told that he never liked to write letters so I felt quite blessed when I received mine. From that time on I continued to write to him throughout my adult life.

Father Joe, Mary Walijewski (Fr. Joe’s mother) and his sister, Sister Noel. Taken in Grand Rapids
Michigan in the early 1960s.

On October 22, 1977, Father Joe generously traveled from Peru to Michigan to perform my wedding ceremony in a Catholic church to a non-Catholic man who rarely attended church. Over the years Fr. Joe’s presence resonated with my husband and me as we raised our two daughters. Additionally, I believe Fr. Joe had an impact on my husband becoming Catholic after attending Mass with us for many years. Last but not least, on April 11, 2013, the seventh anniversary of Father Joe’s death, my first grandchild Isabella was born!

So as Father Joe continued to be a Servant of God in other parts of the country, his works were also bearing fruit in the United States, and in particular in our family.

I applaud everyone who is involved with the mission of the Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild. You are doing wondrous deeds to preserve Fr. Joe’s legacy. However, I already know that in God’s eyes “Father Joseph Walijewski” has already been blessed into sainthood.

A few anecdotes from the family: A memory from Rosemary, a niece: During a visit to my home, I asked Fr. Joe what he preferred for breakfast; naming pancakes, sausage, eggs, toast and hash browns. He replied “YES” with his childlike grin followed by an explanation that his cook didn’t prepare these foods for him in Peru. Needless to say he enjoyed his wholesome breakfast!

Another memory shared by his deceased sister (relayed to Rosemary): When back in the U.S., Fr. Joe would sometimes forget that the rules of the road here were different than driving in the jungle. While traveling back to Wisconsin from Michigan, his car would be loaded to the brim with donated clothes to be shipped to Peru and his foot would be heavy. With these traveling traits, Fr. Joe was becoming quite a favorite subject of the State Police.

Father Joe – An Orphan No More

Category : News

At last I am an orphan no more.

As we ponder the life and works of the Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski, we may ask ourselves what would inspire someone to work so hard and for so long in a place so far from one’s homeland? What was it that fuelled his energy and gave him consolation for so
many years?

Clues to answer those questions are found in some of his early writings.

When Father Joe was finishing his first year of seminary in Michigan, it was determined that he didn’t fit their profile so he was told to pursue another calling. Perhaps his simple upbringing or his difficulty with some college level classes raised doubt in the minds of the Michigan seminary. For whatever reason, young Joseph
Walijewski needed to find out if God’s plan for his life was the priesthood, and if it was, it would have to be for another diocese.

Displaying early on his character of seeing a problem and determining to do something about it, he decided to send letters of application to the neighboring dioceses asking if they would take him as a seminarian. After several letters went unanswered, someone suggested he contact Bishop Alexander Joseph McGavick of the Diocese of La Crosse. Within two weeks, Bishop McGavick responded to young Joe with a letter asking him to come for an interview. It was that letter that opened the door for him to continue as a seminarian for the Diocese of La Crosse.

A few years later as Joseph was starting his third year at St. Joseph Seminary in Milwaukee, Bishop John Patrick Treacy was named the fifth Bishop of La Crosse. Here is what he wrote to his new bishop in February of 1949, “I owe my whole life’s work for the diocese of La Crosse. I wish I could express my gratitude, for all that your Excellency has done for me. I was on the verge of despair in my attempts in seeking a diocese that would adopt me as one of their sons. I was a seminarian without a diocese, no one would accept me. Then a friend of mine suggested the diocese of La Crosse. At last I am an orphan no more.”

Father Joe knew how it felt to be orphaned as he was looking for a diocese that would adopt him as one of their sons. In response to the kindness shown to him by the Diocese of La Crosse, he pledged his whole life’s work. Little did he know where that would take him or to what extent his service done in gratitude would enable the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be told. Many thanks for your years spent in service to the countless people who received the gift you passed on to them.

Sustaining his Legacy

Category : News

The Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild was established to sustain the legacy and promote the cause of the Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski. Since its inception in 2013, over 1,800 people have become members. These members have taken the time to learn more about Father Joe’s life, prayed for his beatification and canonization, and helped sustain the legacy he left behind through their financial contributions.

“The chief task is to provide leadership and financial sustainability for the missions started by Father Joe.”

While the canonization process is important to the mission of the Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild, the task of preparing the documents and testimony for delivery to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican typically takes about five years. The ongoing and chief task of the Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild is to provide financial sustainability and leadership for the missions and organizations started by Father Joe that are still serving countless people today.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Please continue to pray for the advancement of his cause and help spread the word about his life and legacy. Take a few moments to learn more about his life and let his model of humble service guide you in your own pursuit of Christ-like service. If you are able, consider making a financial contribution to the Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild. Your gift will mean so much.


Sunday, March 17, 2019Father Joseph Walijewski’s 6th Anniversary Mass
St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, La Crosse, WI


Tuesday, March 19, 2019Feast of St. Joseph and Celebration of St. Joseph’s Table. Help us create a new tradition! Host an event or join family and friends in your community. For a listing of events happening please visit

Televised Mass with Msgr. Hirsch
Monday, May 20, 2019 | 5:30 p.m.
Christ the King Chapel – Holy Cross Diocesan Center
3710 East Ave S, La Crosse, WI 54601
Please RSVP to Michael Haight at or by calling 608-791-2697 by Wednesday, May 15th

Friday, October 25, 2019Father Joseph Walijewski Legacy Guild Dinner Benefiting Casa Hogar – La Crosse, WI

"Then I will not have lived in vain, and I'll not care how long I'll live, if I can give and give and give."

— Fr. Walijewski