Father Donald Verhagen


Born January 21, 1919 - Died September 20, 2001

Father Donald Verhagen (birth name: Robert Nicholas) was born in 1919 in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, just outside Appleton. He attended Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz for high school and the first two years of college. He entered the Novitiate there in 1938, and he made his profession of vows on September 8, 1939. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Divine Savior Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. He was ordained in Green Bay Wisconsin, on May 19, 1945. Fr. Donald taught in the seminary in St. Nazianz and was also dean of students. In 1952, he continued further studies in biology and education at Catholic University in Washington, DC. He then became the first principal of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster, New York; and later, he was the first principal of Marian High School in Mishawaka, Indiana. Beginning in 1971, he was associate pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin; pastor of St. Mark’s Parish in Phoenix, Arizona; associate pastor of Queen of Peace Parish in nearby Mesa; and pastor of St. Rita in the Desert Parish further south in the state, in Vail. In 1996, Fr. Don retired for reasons of health, and he moved to the Jordan Hall community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1999, more extensive nursing care needs brought him to St. Mary’s Home in Manitowoc, where he died on September 20, 2001. He was buried in the community cemetery in St. Nazianz. Fr. Don is remembered as a kind and gentle man who devotedly gave his time and energy to his ministries. His sense of humor and his easy-going manner made him a friend to many, both within the community and outside it.