Msgr. Baumgaertner fostered seminary formation in Minnesota and beyond

| June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Longtime seminary leader Msgr. William Baumgaertner died June 21 at age 95 at Cerenity Senior Care Marian in St. Paul.

Msgr. Baumgaertner served as rector of the St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul from 1968 to 1980. His seminary work began as a philosophy professor at the St. Paul Seminary from 1949 to 1968 and expanded to academic dean from 1964 to 1968.

Msgr. William Baumgaertner

“He just exuded energy and enthusiasm. From him, I learned the value of learning for its own sake,” former University of St. Thomas president Father Dennis Dease said of Msgr. Baumgaertner. Father Dease had him as a professor and later as rector while studying for the priesthood in the late 1960s.

“I also acquired a foundation upon which I could build my priestly ministry for the rest of my life. I was grateful to him for that,” Father Dease added.

In the 1980s, Msgr. Baumgaertner’s seminary work moved east, where he served as executive director for the seminary department at the National Catholic Educational Association in Washington, D.C., from 1980 to 1984. He also served as director of accreditation for the Association of Theological Schools, which serves the U.S. and Canada, from 1984 to 1990 in Dayton, Ohio. In addition, he served with numerous boards for theology schools.

“He had strengthened the St. Paul Seminary’s national reputation within the ATS,” said Father Dease, who served as St. Thomas’ president from 1991 to 2013.

Msgr. Baumgaertner worked as the director of seminary relations for A Christian Ministry in the National Parks from 1991 to 1993 before retiring. He served several parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis during retirement until 2012.

For recreation, he enjoyed playing tennis, swimming, canoeing, hiking and downhill skiing.

Msgr. Baumgaertner was born June 8, 1922, in St. Paul. He grew up with his parents, William and Anna Baumgaertner, and his brother and two sisters. Msgr. Baumgaertner graduated from St. Thomas Academy, then in St. Paul, before completing his bachelor’s degree at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 1943.

He studied for the priesthood at the St.  Paul Seminary from 1941 to 1946 and was ordained a priest June 8, 1946, at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. After ordination, he completed a doctorate in philosophy in 1949 from Laval University in Quebec City.

He is survived by his brother, Carl Baumgaertner, and a niece and eight nephews.

Msgr. Baumgaertner’s wake will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 5 at Willwerscheid Mortuary in St. Paul. Visitation will begin 10 a.m. July 6 at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity followed by an 11 a.m. funeral with Archbishop Bernard Hebda presiding.

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Category: Local News, Obituaries