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Dominican priest Chris Geraets (75) buried in Bolivia

Grandparents immigrated in 1882 from Hardenberg

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin - A charismatic Dominican priest whose grand- parents immigrated with their family in the 1880s from Hardenberg, Overijssel to settle in LeMars, Iowa, has died in Bolivia at the age of 75. A 4-mile procession in the Bolivian town preceded the funeral of Father Christopher Geraets, who was named Harold Anthony by his parents. The Pierce County, Wisconsin, native in recent years had been struggling with Parkinson's and was assigned limited service in 1999. He was ordained a priest in 1956. Ninth in Theodore and Hildegard Geraets' family of 14 children, Harold served three years in the U.S. Army after which he entered college and became a Dominican novice in Winona, Minnesota, where he was given the religious name of Christopher.

After teaching philosophy and theology, and serving as a chaplain at a college in Racine, Geraets was assigned as a missionary to Bolivia. He taught at a seminary and worked in various other charges, and eventually became associated with the charismatic movement. Three of Geraets' siblings entered religious life as well. A brother serves as an abbot.

Descendants of Johannes Hendrikus Geraets and his Dedemsvaart-born wife Johanna Ossevoort can be found throughout the midwest states, and now number in the hundreds. The earliest roots of the Geraets have been traced to the Roermond vicinity, in the southeast part of the Netherlands. In the post-Napoleonic era, a branch of the Geraets worked at the Ommerschans penal colony from where the parents of Johannes Hendrikus settled in the Ambt Hardenberg. The Geraets immigrated in 1882 with three children and farmed near Alton, Iowa, where they had joined a German-speaking RC community. Four more children were born in the U.S. A brother of Mrs. Geraets settled in Minnesota. He anglicized his surname to Ossefort.