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In Memoriam – George Hinger ’45

George Hinger ’45   

George Hinger, beloved husband, friend, and spiritual mentor to many, left this life on May 24, 2019, and continues his journey into Sacred Mystery. George was born to Leo and Agatha (Deinhammer) Hinger on Dec. 18, 1927, in Eau Claire. He attended St. John Preparatory School and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. He later received a Master’s in Medieval Studies and a PhD in History at Catholic University.

He was ordained in 1953 to the Catholic priesthood in the LaCrosse Diocese, where he served as a professor at the seminary. In 1963, he was hired at the Catholic Student Center as a chaplain at UW-LaCrosse, where he taught a class in comparative religions.

George left active ministry in 1971. In 1972, he married his great love, Audrey Schmitz at the St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Madison. He was regional director for the Wisconsin Lung Association from 1972 to 1979.

In 1979, George was hired at St. Benedict’s Center, a Retreat and Conference Center in Middleton. He began as an administrator and soon became director of Ecumenical Relations and Programs. He helped bring such noted speakers to the Center as Henri Nouwen in 1976, and the Dali Lama in 1979, and organized retreats with James Findley and Thea Bowman.

George was a founding member of the Community of Benedict, an ecumenical community of religious and lay men and women who sought to follow the Rule of Benedict in their daily lives.

He was a spiritual guide to many. He felt deeply indebted to his own spiritual mentor, Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk at Gethsemane Monastery. Merton’s blend of contemplation and action enriched George’s understanding of the Christian life.

George’s great passion was Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. He helped establish the Madison Interfaith Dialogue group and attended the International Parliament of World Religions which sought to draw from the deep spiritual wells of the great religions of the world.

In addition to his membership in Good Shepard Parish, St. Joseph site, George was a member of Sunday Assembly at St. Benedict’s Center, now Holy Wisdom Monastery.
He and Audrey are fondly remembered for the many years that they fixed lamb for the community at the Holy Thursday meal. While they had no children of their own, they embraced the many children at St. Benedict Center/Holy Wisdom Monastery and St Joseph’s as well as their numerous nieces and nephews.

George was board president for Madison Area Urban Ministry and served on numerous committees including those involving prison reform and racial justice. He and Audrey were involved in with Luke House Meal Program for over 20 years.

George was a deeply spiritual man, beloved by many in his various communities. He will be missed by many of those who were nourished by his spiritual and theological insights, his compassion, gentleness, and loving care. He received the Mazuchelli Medallion in 2003 from Edgewood College in the spirit of Samuel Mazechelli’s, OP, for being a visionary and compassionate leader of justice and education for the poor and minorities.

He leaves behind his beloved wife, Audrey; his sisters, Anita Schillak (John) and Joanne Fesenmaier (Bill); sister-in-law, Juanita Hinger; and 17 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Leo Hinger; and his sisters, Delores Hesslau (Tom) and Mary Hehli (Bob).

George and Audrey are grateful to the many staff at the Waterford in Fitchburg, and the many friends from St Joseph’s and Holy Wisdom Monastery who have supported them, especially in the last three years.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at GOOD SHEPHERD CATHOLIC PARISH AT ST. JOSEPH CHURCH, 1905 W. Beltline Highway, Madison, on Friday, May 31, 2019, at 1 p.m. Family will greet friends after 11:30 a.m. until time of Mass.

At a later date there will be a Celebration of his Life when his ashes are interred in the Columbarium at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Memorials can be made to Good Shepard Parish and Holy Wisdom Monastery. Please share your memories at

Cress Funeral and Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison