Parish Staff

Most Rev. William P. Callahan, OFM Conv.

bishop_william_callahan_200The Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan, OFM. Conv., born June 17, 1950, is a Conventual Franciscan of the St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago. A Chicago native, he attended St. Mary Minor Seminary in Crystal Lake, Ill., and studied at Junior College, Chicago, before being accepted in the Novitiate of St. Bonaventure at Lake Forest, Ill., where he continued his formation from 1969 to 1970. From 1970 to 1973, he studied at Loyola University, Chicago, earning a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Communications. He earned his master’s of divinity degree from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto in 1976.

Bishop Callahan was ordained to the priesthood on April 30, 1977, by Milwaukee Archbishop William E. Cousins. His first priestly assignment was as associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Josaphat Parish, Milwaukee, from 1977 to 1978. Bishop Callahan then served as the director of vocations for the Conventual Franciscans from 1978 to 1984; as associate pastor of Holy Family Parish, Peoria, Ill., from 1984 to 1987; and as pastor of Holy Family Parish, Peoria, from 1987-1994.

In 1994, Bishop Callahan returned to Milwaukee and the St. Josaphat congregation. He served as rector and pastor of St. Josaphat Parish until 2005. At that time, he left the parish and went to serve as spiritual director for the Pontifical North American College, the seminary for Americans, Rome, until December 14, 2007.

Pope Benedict XVI named Callahan an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on October 30, 2007. He was the first Conventual Franciscan to be named a bishop in the United States. As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Callahan serves the Church by helping the diocesan bishop in the pastoral and spiritual leadership of a diocese, and by assisting the diocesan bishop in his role as shepherd – through teaching, leading, serving and celebrating the sacraments with the people of the diocese.

On April 20, 2009, the College of Consultors elected him to serve as the administrator of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee until then Archbishop-designate Listecki was installed as Archbishop of Milwaukee on January 4, 2010. On June 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI named him as the Tenth Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse.

The youngest of four children, Callahan has two older sisters and one older brother. His parents, Ellen and William Callahan, are deceased.

Msgr. Richard Gilles, Rector

I was born to Richard and Diann, one of five children in 1966. My hometown is Boyd, Wisconsin, a village about 18 miles east of Chippewa Falls with a population of fewer than 500. I actually grew up in the country, just across the field from my grandpa and grandma’s dairy farm. They were still young and busy raising the last four (of eight) of their children. My mom was the oldest.  Many of my growing up years were spent on their dairy farm; and then on my Aunt and Uncle’s. It taught me a strong work ethic which has never left me.

I graduated from Stanley-Boyd High School in 1985.  After that, I attended the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.  I was there for two years until the spring of 1987.  At the invitation (best ever!) of Father Robert Cook, I transferred to the college seminary, St. John Vianney, which is located on the campus of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I graduated from the then college of St. Thomas (now a university) in the spring of 1990. I began my studies in theology at St. Mary of the Lake University Seminary at Mundelein, Illinois. The Most Reverend John J. Paul ordained me to the priesthood in the spring of that year, May 28, 1994. I was the last priest he ordained.   

My first priestly assignment was Chaplain and Instructor of Religion at McDonell Central Catholic High School in Chippewa Falls.  I taught there for three years from the fall of 1994 to the spring of 1997.  During that time, I became parochial administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Eau Claire for six months.  I think I learned more than the students did!

In the spring of my second year of teaching (April 29, 1996 to be exact—unforgettable moment that it was!) Bishop Burke asked me to go on for further studies in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Nervous about the whole thing, I agreed and left for Rome August 1, 1997 to begin my studies. In 1999 I received a licentiate in canon law. I returned home to begin my duties serving three bishops and twice as Diocesan Administrator over a period of over 11 years.

Bestowing a great gift upon me, Bishop William Callahan appointed me Pastor of St. Mary Immaculate Conception in Tomah and St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Warrens, merged now as Queen of the Apostles Parish July 1, 2015. After heavy administrative work, being a parish priest was a dream come true. I only waited 16 years.  After 10 years as pastor there, I was transferred to Cathedral Parish. I am super excited and proud to be rector of this magnificent community of faith. As I said in my first homily here, my “job” is to fall in love with you. This will be easy to do! Our common goal is serve our parish family, the whole Diocese as its Mother Church, and indeed the whole community of this great and beautiful city we call La Crosse. Let’s build a home for all; let’s build something wonderful to behold for God’s glory and honor and for our salvation! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!  St. Joseph the Workman, pray for us!

Deacon Joseph Richards

Deacon Joseph Richards hails from Cleveland, Ohio, although most of his life was spent in different parts of California before he and his wife Carol moved back to the Midwest.  In 2000 they came to La Crosse.  Eventually their three children went to Aquinas High School and have since graduated from different Midwest colleges, the youngest most recently from Chicago’s St. Mary of the Lake University and Mundelein Seminary, before becoming Ordained a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse..

Deacon did college and philosophy studies at St. Michael’s Norbertine Abbey in Orange, California.  He did theological studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, before graduating with the rest of his diaconal formation class, all of whom received Masters Degrees from Madonna University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology, as prescribed by the Diocese.

Deacon Richards and his family have been Cathedral parishioners since 2005.  He was ordained a permanent deacon at Cathedral by (then) Bishop Jerome Listecki on January 27, 2007.  A carpenter and building contractor by profession, he has served as Director of Buildings and Grounds for (then) Coulee Catholic Schools, and afterwards for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He recently retired after serving nine years as the Director of Holy Cross Diocesan Center.  Deacon Richards remains intent on bringing the benefits of service at the altar to the Church’s work of charity.

Deacon Tom Skemp

deacon skemp

Deacon Tom Skemp last full-time job (besides the diaconate) was chaplain at the La Crosse County Jail, from which he retired after 16 years in 2018. He has a B.A. in Ministry from Viterbo University in La Crosse, is a board-certified correctional chaplain and a credentialed police chaplain. Since retiring from the U.S. Navy (Submarine Service) in 1994 he has worked in parish ministry, Citizen Advocacy, has been a core member at the La Crosse Catholic Worker house (A Place of Grace), has served on the Matthew 25 and Ruth House steering committees working to establish safe housing and reintegration for women ex-offenders leaving the correctional system using volunteer advocates and mentors, served as chair of the AMOS Restorative Justice Task Force where he was involved in establishing Circles of Support, a mentoring program for ex-offenders returning to the community, and has conducted victim-offender mediation through the YWCA’s Mediation and Restorative Services office. More recently he was on the Human Trafficking Task Force in La Crosse. He still connects regularly with former offenders that he came to know while working in the jail and coordinates the Front Door Ministry for the Cathedral.

Deacon Skemp is married to Janine, has two grown children and two grandsons. He was ordained by Bishop Callahan in October 2012.

Dr. Brian Luckner

Brian Luckner (b. 1959) was appointed Director of Music and Organist at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the  Workman in July of 1988. In addition to his full-time position at the Cathedral, he is director of the La Crosse  Diocesan Chorale.  

He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and the Master of Music degree from the College-Conservatory of  Music at the University of Cincinnati, and the Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory  of Music. He participated in the “Accelerated Bachelor of Music Program for High School Students” at the Cleve land Institute of Music. 

His organ teachers include Roberta Gary, Garth Peacock, Margaret Irwin-Brandon, and Philip Hodel; he studied harpsichord with William Porter and Lisa Crawford. Luckner has performed in master classes under David  Craighead, Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, and Louis Robilliard. His choral conducting studies were with Daniel  Moe. 

Dr. Luckner’s compositions are published by CanticaNova Publications, Mark Foster, GIA Publications, MorningStar, Paraclete Press, and Trinitas. Compositions have been commissioned by the Cathedral of Saint Matthew  in Washington, D.C.; Saint Louis Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri; the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta,  Georgia; and others. 

Achievements during his tenure in La Crosse include choir performances in Rome (including the Basilica of  St. Peter and the Basilica of Saint John Lateran) and Paris (including Notre Dame Cathedral and the Basilica of  St. Clotilde), three choral recordings, and the installation of the Noack organ at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2008 and two Noack organs at the Cathedral in 2010. 

Dr. Luckner currently serves, since early 2019, as head of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians (United States and Canada), a position he also held from 1997 to 2002. Prior to his appointment in La  Crosse, he was the Assistant in Liturgical Music at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Previous church positions include serving as music director and organist at the Church  of the Guardian Angels in Cincinnati, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, and Christ Episcopal Church  in Oberlin, Ohio. He earlier held assistant organist positions at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Canton,  Ohio, and at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Massillon, Ohio. 

Awards include election to the national honorary music society Pi Kappa Lambda while at Oberlin, the Selby  Houston Memorial Award in Organ and Theory at Oberlin, and the University of Cincinnati Organ Playing  Competition Strader Awards (first place in 1981, second place in 1983). He is listed in Who’s Who in America  (2006–) and Who’s Who in the World (2007–). 

Brian has two sons, George and Harry.

Kevin Decker

I was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1987.  In 2006, I graduated from Red River High School and went on to receive a Liberal Art degree from Northland Technical and Community College in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  I joined FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) in 2013 where I found my passion for evangelization. While in FOCUS, I spent time in Ave Maria, Florida, learning Theology, fundraising, evangelization, and apologetics. The summer of 2013 was spent fundraising my salary and spreading the good news of the new evangelization on college campuses.

In the fall of 2013, FOCUS had sent me to UWL in La Crosse, where I spent two years discipling and leading students in Bible studies. The whole experience really changed my life and the way I think of evangelization. FOCUS helped me really build personal relationships and learn how to walk with others in their faith journeys.

I met my wife, Elizabeth, on the first day in La Crosse. We got married at St. James the Less Church in August 2015. Elizabeth is currently a stay-at-home mom with our four children: Joshua, Gemma, Joseph, and Andrew.

Elizabeth and I are very blessed to be a part of Cathedral Parish.  As the Parish Mission Associate, I am looking forward to getting to know all the parishioners at the Cathedral, helping build Christ-centered community within the parish, and walking with many along their faith journeys to help integrate Christ into daily life.

Jackie Craig

Jackie Craig moved to the La Crosse area right before starting High School.  After High School, she attended the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and Viterbo University, studying in Mass
Communications and Accounting.

Her last job (of twenty-seven years) she was General Manager of a company where she was responsible for overseeing all of the day to day operations of the business as well as managing all of the bookkeeping/accounting, and customer service.

Jackie and her husband Dave, have four children, all of whom have graduated from, or are still attending, Aquinas Catholic Schools.
Jackie and her family are members of Blessed Sacrament Parish in La Crosse.

Jackie’s favorite quote/motto came from a sermon that Monsignor Robert Hundt gave several years ago, and she tries to live her life by that inspiration.  “When you were born…, you cried, and the world rejoiced.  Live your life so that when you die… the world cries, and you rejoice!”

In her free time, Jackie likes to bake, go to Aquinas sporting events, and spend time with her family.

It’s a great day to have a great day!

Nathanael Rhody

Nathanael is, by vocation, a husband and father.  He is originally from Spirit, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  He grew up mostly in Venezuela and Guatemala, as son of Protestant missionaries.  In 2011, whilst studying abroad in Germany, he was called home to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.  He has a Bachelor’s degree and has worked in farming, carpentry, logging and landscaping.   

As director of maintenance at the Cathedral of St Joseph the Workman, his work spans a wide variety of tasks from janitorial duties, lawn care and snow removal to chasing leaks, changing bulbs and preventative maintenance. 

The daily goal is: Silence through prayer and manual labor, sanctified by Christ the King through His Blessed Mother.