Rev. Father Gadeikis is the pastor of the church of the Immaculate Conception, located on the corner of North Tenth street and Erie avenue in Sheboygan. He was born December 25, 1873, at Kovno (government), Telszi county, Nevoczinose, and is the son of Leo and Ursula Gadeikis. His father is still a resident of his native country. His mother, however, passed away in the year 1898 and was buried in the cemetery in her home parish.
Father Gadeikis received his early education in his native country and at the College of Szauli, Kovno, where for some time he was enrolled as a student of law. During his studies at that institution he was discovered by the authorities to be in possession of Lithuanian books which were printed in the German language and had been smuggled over the forbidden Russian line. These books were not allowed by the Russian government to be in possession of any of her subjects at that time. Many years before, in 1863, by an act of law, the Lithuanian nation was deprived of the right of publishing books in the Lithuanian alphabet. This law, however, has since been revoked and its passing away is one of the many changes made by the Russian government in the interests of her subjects during the war between Japan and Russia.
On account of having been guilty of being in possession of and in the use of books forbidden by the Russian government, he was accordingly exiled to territory outside of Lithuanian Poland, in the city of Revel, Estlandskoi, and was there confined in the Szauli prison for four months and three days. Two months he spent in exile and at the end of that time he obtained permission to go to another exile where the rules in force required a personal report every second day. In addition to the very limited liberty allowed him in this new place he was nevertheless watched by the secret police, whose duty it was to be able at all hours of the day or night to know exactly his whereabouts and what he was doing.
But liberty is the most to be desired of all the gifts of civilized life by every human being the wide world over and Father Gadeikis was no exception to the rule. He had no sooner received his papers of transfer than he forthwith immediately made his escape from exile and succeeded in reaching the free shores of America in the month of April, 1900. After reaching this land of the free he at once became a student in the Polish Seminary at Detroit, Michigan, and here continued to pursue his studies in theology for a period of six months. Thereafter he became a private student of the Jesuit fathers, going later to the Assumption College at Sandwich, Ontario, where he was ordained February 7, 1907, by the Rt. Rev. John Janssen, bishop of Belleville. Immediately following his ordination he removed to East St. Louis and there became pastor of the Lithuanian Catholic church of the Immaculate Conception and continued in this pastorate for the succeeding four and a half years. He was very successful in his work as pastor at East St. Louis and during the time of his service at that place he enlarged the church and also built a suitable school building, in which he taught school for one year. Subsequently he acted as representative of the local pastor of a Chicago church for six months and from that city was transferred to his present work at Sheboygan.
The church of the Immaculate Conception of Sheboygan, of which Father John A. Gadeikis is the present successful pastor, was built by Rev. Casimir Ambrozaitis, he having organized the congregation, consisting of seventy families, in the year 1903. He was succeeded in his pastorate by Rev. M. Jodyszius and he was followed by Rev. A. Balinska, who continued in the pastorate of this church for two years, his immediate successor having been Rev. Stanislaus Dysza, whose pastorate extended over a period of six months only and who was the immediate predecessor to Father Gadeikis, now in the active service of his pastorate. Since the organization of this congregation it has constantly grown in numbers and influence until at the present time it is comprised of one hundred and sixty families, with a total membership of over five hundred worshipers.
Father Gadeikis' years of study, broken into by the sad tragedy of his exile, have nevertheless been years of fruitful service in his chosen field along the path of his priesthood. Church improvements have been made, congregations have been enlarged and everywhere the evidence of faithfulness and efficiency tell their story of his successful service rendered to the church to which he has consecrated his life in the service of the priesthood. He has made many and enduring friends since taking up his residence in Sheboygan and is destined to become an important factor in the religious care and development of the people to whom he is ministering in the office of pastor and priest.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL