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Father James Dabruzzi reflects on 60 years of ministry

Father James Dabruzzi grew up in North Hudson.1 / 2
Taken in the 1950s, this photo of the Dabruzzi family shows all nine children with mom and dad. Now in their 80s, six of the nine children are still living. The family includes, front from left, Samuel (who died on the USS Thresher in 1963), dad Sam, mom Lizzie and Father James Dabruzzi; back, Frank, Doris, Caroline, Lucy, Margaret, Dorothy and Albert. Samuel, Frank and Margaret are deceased.2 / 2

Father James Dabruzzi will observe 60 years of ministry with a reception Thursday, May 30. In fact, May 30 will mark exactly 60 years to the day that he was ordained at Josephinum Chapel in Worthington, Ohio.

Dabruzzi, 85, was born Sept. 4, 1927, in the family house on Monroe Street in North Hudson. The son of Sam and Lizzie Dabruzzi, James attended St. Patrick School in Hudson.

"I attended through the eighth grade and then left for Ohio," Dabruzzi said. "For the next 12 years I complete high school, college and the seminary."

His first assignment came shortly after the 1953 ordination. Ironically all his assignments were in northern Wisconsin. His first church was in Mercer, then came Washburn, Rice Lake, Merrill, Osceola and Hayward. He retired from full time ministry in 1995, but came back to Hudson and continued part time at St. Patrick in Hudson for a number of years. For the past 12 years he has celebrated Mass with the Carmelite nuns at the monastery on Laurel Avenue.

"I go there nearly every day," Dabruzzi said. "Usually it's four to six times a week."

In reflecting on 60 years of ministry, Dabruzzi said he has always enjoyed serving people.

"I enjoy meeting people on a one-to-one basis and minister anyway I can," He said. "I've always enjoyed parish work. I'm not much for an office or administration. The parish work is what means the most. That's how I see Pope Francis working also -- with the people."


@t:Dabruzzi cited the second Vatican Council as a major milestone in the Catholic Church.

"It was a call to renewal," he said. "It led to changes in the celebration Mass, including changes in liturgy and the use of the English language."

He is hoping that Pope Francis will bring even more changes to the Catholic Church. Among the items Dabruzzi supports is allowing priests to marry and allowing women to be ordained as priests.

"Those changes would not only solve the shortage of priests, but would make the church stronger," he said. "Married priests and women could serve the church from a stronger position and it is the 'just' thing to do. It has to be considered."

Dabruzzi said he is also comfortable having a closer relationship with other Christian churches.

"I attend services here at WinterGreen and we are all one family of Christians. I'm very comfortable participating in services of other churches."

He said he had pleasant memories of growing up in North Hudson.

"Of course, growing up in the '30s was during the Depression," Dabruzzi said. "Life was simple and quiet. I had summer tasks and enjoyed hunting fishing and swimming."

He recalled the summer days when Father Owens (1881-1965, served St. Patrick parish from 1934 to 1962) would pick up a group of boys in North Hudson and take them to Perch Lake for swimming.

"I remember the flood in 1934 which washed out the dam and left Lake Mallelieu empty," Dabruzzi said. "A temporary bridge was built across the small stream of water and I walked to St. Patrick School at the age of 7 every day across that temporary wooden foot bridge."

One of his sad memories in life came April 10, 1963, when his brother Samuel died on the nuclear submarine USS Thresher. The submarine sank during a deep test dive near Cape Cod, Mass. All 129 crew members perished.

"I remember I was laying on the couch and heard about the Thresher on the news. I knew my brother was on the ship," Dabruzzi said.