Obituary — Father Gerald Nicholas Joseph Scherer
Click here to read the text from Bishop Steven Biegler’s funeral Mass homily.
Father Gerald N. Scherer was born in 1919 in a little farmhouse near Timber Lake, South Dakota. He was the third of six children born to Simon A. Scherer and Mary C. Ditter. He attended grade school in a one-room country school near their farm, then went to high school at St. Joseph’s School in Timber Lake, graduating in 1936.
From 1936 to 1940 he helped his father operate a lignite coal mine near Firesteel, SD. When his father died in a mining accident in 1940 he took over the operation of the mine and ran it until 1943 when the underground supply of coal was exhausted.
After spending a year working in an aircraft factory as an arc-welder in Wayne, Michigan, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. In 1947 he was discharged from the service, and that fall he entered St. John’s University at Collegeville, Minnesota, graduating with a BA degree in 1950.
In the fall of 1950 he entered the Seminary at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, for theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood there on May 8, 1954 by then-Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, who was the Apostolic Delegate to the United States before later being named a Cardinal and appointed as the Vatican’s Secretary of State.
Father Scherer’s first assignment in the Diocese of Rapid City was as assistant pastor at the Cathedral Parish in Rapid City. From there he was sent as assistant pastor to Buffalo, South Dakota, where he helped attend to St. Anthony’s Parish and its six outlying missions.
In January 1956 he was appointed by Bishop McCarty as rector of Witten, Hamill and Dixon-Iona. While pastor there he helped with the remodeling of all three churches. In 1960 his residence was transferred to Winner, where he helped out with the school and sports program while still taking care of the missions at Witten, Hamill and Dixon.
In 1965 he was appointed as pastor of Murdo with a mission at Draper. During these years he held the additional position of Diocesan Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
On September 14, 1967 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Gregory, and in 1970 he was again reassigned as pastor of St. Mary’s in Lemmon, where he continued to work at the diocesan level organizing parish catechetical programs, training catechists and using a mimeograph to publish the materials he had written, bringing a new approach to teaching the faith to children and youth.
In 1974 Father Scherer was appointed as Rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, where he served until 1983. During this time he put his building know-how to good use, designing the present chancery, which opened in 1975.
From 1983 to 1994 he served as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Custer with a mission at Hermosa. During this time, he build a new rectory in Custer, doing much of the work himself.
Father Scherer retired in 1994 to the private home he built near Hermosa. His “hermitage” was used at times for private retreats by many in the diocese. He continued to assist pastors with weekend pastoral support and to host retreats and workshops at his home until 2000, although he enjoyed visiting relatives in warmer climates during the winter months.
In 2011 his Hermosa home was sold and Father Scherer moved to Casa Maria Priest Retirement Home, where he lived until 2013, when he moved to Here’s a Hart Assisted Living. In 2014 he celebrated his 60th Anniversary of Priesthood in May, and that November moved to Bella Vista Golden Living Center, where he received skilled care until his death on August 1, 2017.