He was born Nov. 8, 1929, in Caledonia, the son of Julius and Felicitas ‘Flossie’ (Schmitt) Ernster. He graduated from Loretto High School in 1947 and then entered Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, graduating from St. Mary’s College in 1951. He then entered St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and was ordained to the priesthood by Most Reverend Edward A. Fitzgerald on June 4, 1955, at his home parish of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Caledonia. He celebrated his first Mass there the following day.
Father Ernster served as Parochial Vicar for the parishes in Wells, Fairmont and St. Stanislaus in Winona and Parochial Administrator for the parishes in Fulda and Easton. He also served as chaplain and special confessor for St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester and chaplain and instructor for the Sisters of Saint Francis at the Motherhouse in Rochester. As pastor, he served the parishes of Lake Crystal and Vernon Center; Adrian and Ellsworth; St. Joseph the Worker in Mankato; Plainview and Immaculate Conception, rural Kellogg; St. Stanislaus and St. John in Winona; Medford and Deerfield; Caledonia; and Dodge Center, Claremont and West Concord. He retired from active ministry Jan. 15, 1998. He continued his service as Parochial Administrator for the parishes of Dodge Center, Claremont, and West Concord, and the parishes in Lewiston, Altura and Wilson. He then briefly served in that capacity for the parishes of Wabasha, Kellogg and Conception in late 2007. Father Ernster continued his priestly ministry until just recently by helping the area priests with their weekend Mass schedules and other Sacraments. He offered Masses at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center’s chapels as well as anointing the sick and the dying.
He was a member of St. Felix Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus Council #901, Mankato. He enjoyed his home on the Mississippi River in rural Wabasha and the serene setting it offered him. He loved fishing, the game of golf and walking. He especially loved cooking at his home for his fellow priests on Sunday evenings.
Father Milo is survived by his sister, Sister Marga (Adeline) Ernster, O.S.F., Rochester, Minn.; aunt, Pernilla Ernster, Caledonia; and several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Julius and Flossie Ernster.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop John M. Quinn, with the priests of the Diocese of Winona con-celebrating on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St. Felix Catholic Church in Wabasha. Interment will be in St. Felix Cemetery. Casket bearers will be his fellow priests. Family and friends may call at the Abbott Funeral Home in Wabasha on Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. The rosary will be recited at 7:45 p.m. by the Knights of Columbus and at 8 p.m. a prayer service will be held. Family and friends may also call at the church on Monday one hour before the Mass. Memorials are preferred to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Community Foundation, 1200 5th Grant Blvd. W., Wabasha, MN 55981. The Abbott Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. www.abbottfh.com