What Father Joe would want me to do
In 1955, Father Joe was the assistant pastor at St. Peter Parish in Stevens Point. He would soon return to his mission work in South America, but not before first touching a few lives here in the Diocese of La Crosse.
Wilma Reis was in high school when she decided to become Catholic and it just so happened that Father Joe gave her instructions in the Catholic faith. Wilma credits Father Joe as the reason she became a strong Catholic, having grown up in the Lutheran faith.
Wilma recently passed away from a long-term illness, but her daughter, Lois Slattery, said her mom shared her story often and spoke fondly of Father Joe and knew that he should be a named saint.
About five years ago Wilma decided that she wanted to sponsor an entire family at Casa Hogar, the orphanage in Peru that Father Joe founded. Lois said Wilma really enjoyed being a family sponsor and actually displayed her Casa Hogar family photo on her refrigerator and did not even have her own biological family photo displayed.
Due to her illness, she was homebound toward the end of her life and Lois said it always gave her mom such joy to receive the Christmas card and family portrait from Casa Hogar. Her family displayed her most recent Casa Hogar card and family photo at her wake service.
She had always followed Father Joe’s journey over the years and often said she wanted to become a sponsor because she thought that is what Father Joe would want her to do.
By Monica Organ