John Gerlach was born (Harold William Gerlach) on February 2, 1937, to Harold and Anna (Low) Gerlach in Sioux City, Iowa, where he attended St. Boniface parochial school. He graduated from Heelan High School in 1954 then studied for two years at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa before entering the Dominicans, Province of St. Albert the Great and given the religious name John Baptist. He made his first profession in the Dominican Order on August 31, 1957 at St. Peter Martyr Priory in Winona, Minnesota. Father Gerlach continued studies at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois and Aquinas Institute at St. Rose of Lima Priory in Dubuque, Iowa before he was ordained to the priesthood there on April 15, 1963. In his first Dominican ministry, Fr. Gerlach was assigned to the faculty at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois in 1964. For almost 30 years, Fr. Gerlach served as Chaplain for the Dominican Sisters, from 1967-69, 1980-83, and from 2001-13 in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin and from 1990-2001 in Springfield, Illinois. He also served the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great as Vicar Provincial from 1985-1990 and as Novice Master from 1969-74. In the 1970s, Fr. Gerlach led campus ministry at South Dakota State University, preaching ministry in Oak Park, Illinois and was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison, Wisconsin. On November 21, 2013, Fr. Gerlach died in Dubuque after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. A Mass of Christian Burial and wake was held at Queen of the Rosary Chapel, Dominican Motherhouse in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin on November 26 & 27, 2013. A Mass of Christian Burial was also held in at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in River Forest, Illinois on December 2, 2013. Burial was at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois. Fr. Gerlach is survived by his brother Howard (Carole) Gerlach, and sisters, Estelle Gerlach , and Jean (Daniel) Raih and their immediate and extended families.
Listen to an audio clip from the Funeral Mass, Monday Dec. 2, 2013, at St. Vincent Ferrer, in River Forest. 10 a.m. below: