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In Memoriam ~ Fr. Albert William Sonnberger ’47

Father Albert William Sonnberger of Chippewa Falls died Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, at Our House Memory Care in Chippewa Falls.

Albert Sonnberger was born Nov. 21, 1929, in Eau Claire, the son of Albert H. and Irene (Melville) Sonnberger.

He completed his grade school education at Sacred Heart Grade School in Eau Claire and his first three years of high school were at St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, Minn., with his senior year at St. Patrick High School in Eau Claire. He then went to St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, for eight years of college and theological education and formation. Bishop John Patrick Treacy ordained him a priest in Holy Cross Seminary Chapel in La Crosse, May 19, 1956. He was a member of the largest class ordained for the diocese.

Father Sonnberger was a teacher at Aquinas High School in La Crosse, then served as the Vocation Director for the Diocese of La Crosse. He served as the Temporary Administrator of Blessed Sacrament Parish in La Crosse, for about nine months and Mission Office Director from 1965 to 1978. In 1973, he was also assigned the Pastor of St. Peter Church in Middle Ridge, Wis., where he served until 1978, when he was appointed the Pastor of Notre Dame in Chippewa Falls. During his time at Notre Dame Parish, he was appointed Dean of the Chippewa Falls Deanery twice, appointed to the Diocesan Financial Council twice, and elected to the Presbyteral Council. Father Sonnberger served as the Pastor of Notre Dame Parish until he became a Senior Priest in July 2000. As a Senior Priest, he generously helped area priests with offering Mass and hearing confessions, while living at St. John the Baptist Rectory in Cooks Valley. When his dementia increased, he moved to Atrium Health and Senior Living in Bloomer, and then moved to Our House Senior Living Memory Care in Chippewa Falls.

Father Sonnberger was preceded in death by his parents, and he had no siblings. He is survived by the Gordy and Donna Schafer family, whom he had long considered to be his family.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, private services were held at St. James the Greater Parish in Eau Claire. The Rev. Woodrow Pace was the main celebrant and the Rev. Msgr. David C. Kunz was the homilist. Interment was in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Eau Claire.

In every life there are some potholes on the road, but I always said, “except for the few potholes, I would live it all over again. A priest can do things for people that no one else can do. To serve them is a privilege and they appreciate it.”

Horan Funeral Home in Chippewa Falls assisted with arrangements.