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Fr. Richard Allen, who served 26 years as a pastor in Neenah, dies at age 89

NEENAH — Reflecting on his vocation, Fr. Richard Allen once wrote: After many years of priestly service, I have been touched many times to see the goodness in people and the beauty of the Gospel that we preach.

Fr. Richard Allen

Fr. Allen died Monday, April 8, at age 89.

He was born Jan. 2, 1935, in New London, one of five boys and seven girls to the late Frank Edward and Mary Agnes (Ahearn) Allen. He was baptized at Most Precious Blood Church in New London six days later.

Responding to the call to the priesthood, Fr. Allen attended Salvatorian Seminary in St. Nazianz and St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul Minn. 

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona on May 27, 1961, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay.

Following ordination, Fr. Allen continued his education during the summers. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee (1962-1966), where he earned a master’s degree in history; the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1968) and Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. (1969).  

His first priestly appointment was as assistant pastor (parochial vicar) at St. Joseph Parish, Marinette. In the fall of 1961, he joined the faculty at Marinette Catholic Central as a teacher. He then served as principal at the school from 1968 to 1974.

“Education opened doors for me,” he said in an interview for his 50-year anniversary as a priest. “It was hard at times. You don’t always feel the satisfaction, but when the students walked out at graduation, I bet I was as proud as anybody.” 

Following 13 years in Marinette, Fr. Allen was appointed as chaplain at St. Joseph Academy in Green Bay. 

In January 1975, he became administrator at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Green Bay, and later that year was named pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Green Bay. In 1982, Fr. Allen was appointed pastor of Holy Cross Parish, Mishicot. 

In 1985, he was appointed as pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish, Neenah, where he served until receiving senior priest status in 2011. Fr. Allen succeeded Fr. Lawrence “Casey” Stingle in Neenah as the second pastor in the parish’s history.

“Twenty-six years is a long time to be in one place,” said Fr. Allen about St. Gabriel Parish in a 2011 interview. “We’ve grown together. There was a lot of cooperation to keep the dream going. I’ve enjoyed the liturgy here, that sense of participation, full, active and conscious, as stated in Vatican II. That to me is bylaw.”

As a senior priest, Fr. Allen served as priest celebrant of St. Mary Parish, Peshtigo; St. Denis Parish, Shiocton; and St. Patrick Parish, Stephensville. He also helped out at other parishes when needed.

In addition to parish and school duties over the years, Fr. Allen also served on the Personnel Committee and the Clergy Congress Committee for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Fr. Allen is survived by his siblings: Sarah Jane Allen, John (Jean) Allen and Alice Allen. He was preceded in death by his parents; and siblings and in-laws: Mary Catherine (Marshall) Shaw, Elaine (Bernard) Dunn, Loretta Allen, Dorothy (Jack) LaFave, Robert Allen, Kenneth (Rita) Allen, Godon (Loretta) Allen, Loraine (Don) Frey and Gordon Burton.

The funeral Mass was held on April 13 at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church. Bishop David Ricken was the celebrant.

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