Father Roger Thoennes a gentle spirit, working for justice

Categories: Around the Diocese

“I have known Father Roger Thoennes for 30 years,” said Father LeRoy Scheierl, pastor of St. Peter Parish and St. Paul Parish in St. Cloud. “As a priest, his biggest concern was being kind to people. He was a gentle spirit who did not want to leave anyone out. He did his best to be a priest for Christ.”


Father Roger Jacob Thoennes

Father Roger Jacob Thoennes, 58, died Sept. 21 at the rectory in Luxemburg. A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, Rockville. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 30 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud, with Bishop Donald Kettler presiding. Burial will be at St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Collegeville.

Father Thoennes was born May 18, 1957, in Melrose, to Berthold and Rose Marie (Mehr) Thoennes. He attended Sacred Heart Grade School, Freeport, and Melrose Public High School, Melrose. He received his college training at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, and his seminary training at Crosier Seminary, Onamia, and St. John’s Seminary, Collegeville. Father Thoennes was ordained June 9, 1990, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud, by Benedictine Bishop Jerome Hanus. He celebrated his first Mass June 10, 1990, at Sacred Heart Church, Freeport.
Father Marvin Enneking remembered Father Thoennes as a priest with a particular interest in liturgy. “Father Thoennes preceded me in serving at Immaculate Conception in Rice. When I came there, I learned from the parishioners about his insightful and meaningful liturgies,” said Father Enneking, pastor of parishes in Greenwald, Meire Grove, Melrose and Spring Hill. “And he had a strong sense of social justice.”

He served in the following parish assignments: associate pastor, St. Mary, Little Falls; parochial administrator, Immaculate Conception, Rice; pastor, Holy Cross, Harding, and St. John Nepomuk, Lastrup; St. John Nepomuk, Lake Reno and Our Lady of the Runestone, Kensington. He was currently serving as parochial vicar for St. Wendelin in Luxemburg, Holy Cross in Pearl Lake and Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Rockville.

“In seminary,” Father Scheierl said, “I worked closely with him during a summer requirement of our social ministry [class]. Together we cooked and served meals for the residents at Jean Donovan House and the Salvation Army. We were given leftover produce from grocery stores or mere scraps from other businesses. It always amazed me what Roger could cook up out of nothing — and it tasted great!”

Father Thoennes is survived by his sisters, Shirley, of St. Cloud, and Karla, of River Falls, Wisconsin. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Robert.