History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - People - Bios




"20 Giving 20" was part of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin's commemoration of its 20th anniversary combating the AIDS epidemic. View all 20 of those honored on the ARCW "20 giving 20" page.

Father Mike Hammer

In 1983 Father Mike Hammer visited a cancer patient at a Catholic hospice unit. As he ended his visit, he asked the Sister in charge whether the hospice had ever admitted an AIDS patient. She smiled with gratitude and said there were two young men in the hospice who seldom had visitors who he should see.

At that moment, Hammer began an AIDS ministry that would be his calling for the next 22 years. He is the founder and director of the Catholic AIDS Ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It is a ministry that has affirmed his faith.

"With the AIDS epidemic, I have truly witnessed the power of love. Because of the devastating nature of AIDS, I have seen families overcome huge differences and turn to love and support one another."

Hammer has supported and counseled hundreds of people who have confronted AIDS in their lives. He visits with families torn apart by AIDS to bring them back together.

"It is a challenge to get people to be open, accepting and loving of parishioners with AIDS, but I know that God wants us to be present."

As a volunteer, donor, educator and counselor, Hammer is Wisconsinís spiritual leader in the fight against AIDS. He also holds a special place in his heart for the annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin.

"On AIDS Walk Sunday we always have walkers from the cathedral and we are proud to send them on their way with a blessing."

Photos and Text courtesy AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, copyright 2005.
Last updated: 10-May-2005.