Frederick William Freking

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Most Reverend

Frederick William Freking
Bishop of La Crosse
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeLa Crosse
In officeFebruary 23, 1965 – May 10, 1983
PredecessorJohn Patrick Treacy
SuccessorJohn Joseph Paul
OrdinationJuly 31, 1938
ConsecrationNovember 30, 1957
Personal details
Born(1913-08-11)August 11, 1913
Heron Lake, Minnesota
DiedNovember 28, 1998(1998-11-28) (aged 85)
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Frederick William Freking (August 11, 1913 – November 28, 1998) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Kansas (1957–64) and the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin (1964–83).


Early life and education[edit]

Freking was born in Heron Lake, Minnesota, one of eighteen children of August and Rosa (née Oberbroeckling) Freking.[1] He received his early education at the parochial school of Sacred Heart Church, and then attended Heron Lake Public High School.[2] In 1934, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary's College in Winona.[3] He completed his studies in philosophy and theology in Rome, at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University.[3] He earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1937.[2]

Priesthood and ministry[edit]

On July 31, 1938, Freking was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Luca Pasetto.[4] Following his return to the Diocese of Winona, he served as a curate in Winona, Dakota, and La Moille, and as editor of the diocesan newspaper before continuing his studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.[1] He there earned a Doctor of Canon Law degree in 1948.[3] He became diocesan chancellor in 1952.[5] From 1953 to 1957, he was spiritual director of the North American College in Rome.[3]

Bishop of Salina, Kansas[edit]

On October 10, 1957, Freking was appointed the fifth Bishop of Salina, Kansas, by Pope Pius XII.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following November 30 from Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, with Archbishops Luigi Traglia and Martin John O'Connor serving as co-consecrators, in Rome.[4] His installation took place at Sacred Heart Cathedral on January 8, 1958.[4] Early during his tenure in Salina, he founded the Salina Council of Catholic Women in 1958 and Catholic Charities of Salina the following year.[1] He convoked the first diocesan synod in 1962.[1]

Freking attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965.[3] As bishop of Salina, he established seven new churches, eleven new convents, four new high schools, and seven new grade schools.[3] He also expanded the diocesan Charity and Religion Fund to assist the parishes in financing their construction and renovation projects.[1]

Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin[edit]

On December 30, 1964, Freking was appointed the sixth Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, by Pope Paul VI.[4] He was installed on February 24, 1965.[4] From 1964 to 1966, he headed the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.[3] During his tenure in La Crosse, he reduced the diocese's debt from $11 million to $4 million between 1965 and 1981.[3] He established a diocesan commission on Christian renewal in 1965, and the first lay ministry training program in the United States in 1975.[3]

He also oversaw construction of 14 churches, 15 rectories, seven elementary schools, 22 religious education centers, five convents and the Newman Center. Freking also supervised 36 church renovations and expansions, and 59 priests were ordained while he was bishop. He was instrumental in the founding of the Bethany-St. Joseph Care Center for the elderly by the diocese and the Lutheran Church in La Crosse.

He retired as Bishop of La Crosse on May 10, 1983.[4] Freking, who long suffered from respiratory problems, died from complications of emphysema at the Franciscan Skemp Medical Center in La Crosse, aged 85.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bishop Frederick W. Freking: 1957-1964". Roman Catholic Diocese of Salina. Archived from the original on 2010-05-24.
  2. ^ a b Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Knoche, Eldon (1998-12-06). "Funeral Mass is Monday for retired Bishop Freking". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Bishop Frederick William Freking".
  5. ^ a b "BISHOP F.W. FREKING; LED A WISCONSIN DIOCESE". Chicago Tribune. 1998-11-30.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Patrick Treacy
Bishop of La Crosse
Succeeded by
John Joseph Paul
Preceded by
Francis Augustine Thill
Bishop of Salina
Succeeded by
Cyril John Vogel