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Farewell Father Santy

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Two parishes lose beloved priest

By Jacob Heiser
The Denmark News

This week, parishioners of the St. James and St. Joseph Catholic churches, as well as many others in the community, were deeply saddened by the departure of Reverend Santiago Turiano who has served both parishes for nearly five years. In his time here, Father Santy has endeared himself to many of his congregants, and he will be sincerely missed by the communities he served. Last week, The Denmark News sat down with Father Santy to speak with him about his time here and what lies in store for him now.

For those who do not know, Father Santy originally hails from Luzon, the main island of The Philippines. He is the third of seven children and is the son of a bus driver and a homemaker. Father Santy says he was inspired to become a priest at a young age by a friendly priest in his home parish who encouraged him to attend the seminary. When he eventually did become a priest, Father Santy served in a number of different parishes in his home dioceses before completing a yearlong mission in the Solomon Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. He then returned to The Philippines where he was pastor of a newly-formed parish for eight years before returning to a parish in his hometown for two more years.

Then, in 2019, fate would bring Father Santy in our direction. That year, he was assigned by the Bishop of his home diocese to help answer a request from Green Bay Diocese Bishop David Ricken for more priests. Before making the journey to Northeast Wisconsin, he did a good deal of research to learn about his soon-to-be home, and after finding out Green Bay was voted the #6 best place to raise a family in the U.S., he was reassured about his destination. Father Santy first arrived in Wisconsin on July 1, 2019, and was immediately assigned to both St. James in Cooperstown as well as St. Joseph in Kellnersville.

Father Santy says he did not struggle too much with adapting to life in Wisconsin. He states that, although it was "very, very cold" his first winter here, he is "pretty adaptable" and even came to like snow. He says he was taken aback by just how friendly everyone in the community was here and really appreciated how everybody was always greeting everyone else. Over the past five years, Father Santy has grown to love much about Wisconsin culture including hunting, fishing and old fashions. Likewise, his parishioners and neighbors have grown to love his kindly nature and deep devotion to his faith.

Unfortunately, despite endearing himself to his parishioners and becoming a beloved part of the greater community, Father Santy must now return home to The Philippines. Due to the federal government not accepting any new Green Card Applications, Father Santy must return to his home country for a minimum of one year. He is hopeful he will be able to return to the country after this timeframe has elapsed. While back home, Father Santy will be helping out a priest at a parish in his hometown which is conveniently only four miles from his family's home.

Father Santy says he will miss "a lot of things" about Wisconsin, most of all "the people and how good they have been to me". His answer for what he will miss least was the obvious "cold weather". He says it's hard to pinpoint a favorite memory but he has countless great ones of the parishes and their people. As for what he is bringing with him, Father Santy says he will take "thousands of pictures, lots of memories, prayers and experiences". He adds he will also be bringing "three bottles of Old Fashion Mix and three bottles of Kesslers" to give himself an authentic taste of Wisconsin while he is away.

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