Nineteenth Pastor, 2005-2008
Father Clemens HammerFather Gary was born in Cincinnati’s Western Hills, the third son of Lawrence Witsken and Antoinette Duwel. His father’s father emigrated from Germany in 1894, one of five siblings who left a dairy farm in Germany to come to Cincinnati. Soon after marrying his grandfather started his own dairy farm in Price Hill and it eventually grew from a farm into a business with 13 delivery routes. After Antoinette’s father died, she moved with her mother and sister to a new home across from Witsken’s Dairy and met his father who lived next to the dairy. In the early 50’s the dairy was sold and some 250 homes were built on the property. Father Gary is the youngest of three boys.
He attended St. Teresa School, Elder High School and St. Gregory and Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. He almost gave a try at becoming a veterinarian and was accepted into X.U. when the Holy Spirit stepped into his life with other ideas. Ordained in 1969 he first was sent to Sidney, Ohio but soon came back to Cincinnati and spent 16 yrs. teaching Spanish and Religion at Elder High while living at St. Antoninus Parish (for two separate assignments), Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Margaret Mary, St. Teresa, before becoming pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Church and later St. Peter’s in New Richmond. In 2005, he was appointed pastor of Immaculata/Holy Trinity and Old St. Mary’s. He retired in 2008.
He has studied Spanish for short periods of time in Madrid and Malaga, Spain and Cochabamba, Bolivia at the Maryknoll Language School. He was chaplain of the baseball team and ski club at Elder. He was also a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves for 20 years stationed at Wright Patterson Air Base, the last 12 years with the 906th Fighter Squadron.