|A Friend to Everyone: Large Crowd Turns out to say
Goodbye to Father Sherman
Zhang, Xiao. "A Friend to Everyone: Large Crowd Turns out to say Goodbye to Father Sherman." Grand Forks Herald, 17 June 2003, sec. 1A.
|The retiring Rev. William Sherman holds a key to the city
given to him by Mayor MikeBrown at a farewell hotdog feed Monday.
More than 500 friends gathered to say goodbye to Sherman and
two other departing priests, the Rev. Thomas Krupich and the
Rev. William McDermott.
For about 20 years, it's been Delores Hackenberg's job toplan numerous
fund-raisers and Christmas events for St. Michael's Catholic Church.
And the Rev. William Sherman, who has been at the church since 1977,
never before has interfered with her work.
But when it came time to plan Monday's retirement ceremony for
Sherman, one of the church's and Grand Forks' most beloved priests,
Hackenberg's hands were tied.
Sherman, who is said by many to be down-to-earth, low-key, intelligent
and caring for all, would not allow Hackenberg to plan any ceremony.
In fact, if it were not for the ceremony the church needed to organize
for departing priests, the Rev. Thomas Krupich and the Rev. William
McDermott, Sherman wouldn't have allowed Monday's picnic to happen
As it was, Sherman set some rules for the picnic: no fanfare, no
microphones and no speeches. People who wanted to visit with the
departing priests could come to the courtyard of St. Michael's and
have a hotdog or hamburger.
And Hackenberg had to let the St. Michael's Altar Society and St.
Michael's Men's Club organize the event.
But when it came to planning the size of the picnic, Sherman didn't
have any say in the matter.
More than 500 people poured in Monday evening to say goodbye -
people from St. Michael's and other area parishes. Organizers soon
ran out of the 500 hotdogs and had to buy more food, said Vern Kary,
a member of the Men's Club.
"He's a friend of everybody's," said District Judge Joel
Medd, a former member of St. Michael's. "It doesn't matter
what everyone's background is."
For Sherman, Monday was a time of mixed feelings.
"It's kind of sad to say goodbye to so many friends. (But)
either I walk out of here, or go out on a stretcher," Sherman
said with his trademark sense of humor.
Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown, a longtime member of St. Michael's
who was married in the church, presented Sherman with a key to the
city. The city also plans to give Sherman a plaque for his contributions.
"He's an institution in this town," Brown said. "He's
one of the pillars of the community."
Hackenberg said Sherman is an "ethnic-conscious" priest.
He's always invited priests who speak other languages to St. Michael's
to better serve the 5,000-member parish, the largest in the Catholic
Diocese of Fargo. The church has held Mass in German, Spanish, Polish
He has worked on and published a half-dozen books, mostly on North
Dakota's ethnic groups, including minorities such as blacks and
"He's truly an amazing person and knowledgeable," Kary
Some church members cried this spring when coming to Sherman's
last Easter sermon.
But most agreed retirement will give Sherman a nice break.
"He won't just sit back," said Gerald Hamerlik, a Grand
Forks City Council member and a trustee at St. Michael's. "He
will be writing and studying."
Sherman will move to the Detroit Lakes, Minn., area and work on
three books: one on Eastern European housing in North Dakota, another
on a Polish priest who was a war hero and a third on a priest killed
Though people are sad to see him leave, Sherman said he'd be back
in the area for research.
"It's been a wonderful time here," Sherman said.
Reprinted with permission of the Grand Forks Herald.