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Remembering Father Alfred Kunz

By Matt C. Abbott
Op/Ed

On March 4, it will be ten years since Father Alfred Kunz, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wis., was found dead in his parish, his throat cut. The case remains unsolved.

Jacek Cianciara remembers Father Kunz fondly.

"It is because of Father Kunz that I came back to the Catholic Church, after many years of wandering in the 'wilderness' of our secular world," wrote Mr. Cianciara, who also related the following anecdotes.

"One Sunday, we were going as usual to St. Michael's for a morning Mass. This was daylight saving time Sunday and we forgot to adjust our watches. We were running a bit late and arrived at St. Michael's after 9 a.m. To our surprise, when we entered the Church, we realized that the Mass was just ending.

"We stood at the back of the church hopelessly wondering where there is a nearby church where we could attend Mass. Father Kunz, who was just walking back toward the sacristy singing 'Holy God We Praise Thy Name,' already figured out what had happened. He interrupted his enthusiastic singing to tell us he'd be back from the sacristy in few minutes for another Mass. His Masses normally lasted about an hour and a half, but he was back in a jiffy, ready to celebrate Mass for the small band -- the two parents and four kids, and two others, who had forgotten to change their clocks."

"Another Sunday, being down with a bad cold, I was staying at home with my daughter, who was also quite sick. My wife and our other three kids were out of town visiting with her mother. In the early afternoon, I spoke with Father Kunz on the phone discussing some matters and mentioned that we felt badly about not being able to attend Mass.

"Father Kunz mentioned something like 'Let me see what can be done,' which I understood to be related to our previous discussion. To our surprise, about an hour later we heard a rattling sound of a car driving down the street and noticed a crimson Volkswagen stopping in front of our house. A minute later, Father Kunz appeared at the door. He said a little prayer, blessed us, gave us Communion, and left, saying that he had many other important things to do that afternoon."

The Tridentine Mass Society of the Madison, Wis., Catholic diocese is having a Mass in remembrance of Father Kunz on March 4, 2008 at Holy Redeemer Parish, 120 W. Johnson St. in Madison.

An advertisement for the Mass contains the following biography (edited):

"Alfred Kunz was born in Dodgeville, Wisconsin on April 15, 1930 and grew up in Fennimore where his family owned a cheese factory nearby. His father was a Swiss immigrant and his mother, a German, was born in America. He had three brothers and four sisters. Father Kunz went to St. Mary's grade school in Fennimore, then left the state for 12 years of schooling at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio. He said his first solemn Mass on June 3, 1956, at St. Mary's in Fennimore. He was associate pastor at Congregations in Waunakee, Cassville, and Monroe, before coming to St. Michael's in Dane to serve as pastor in 1967....

"...He hated abortion, often preaching against it from the pulpit. One day, on a rainy Saturday, he conducted a funeral for a little baby who had been taken dead from a trash can at a Milwaukee abortion clinic. He placed the baby in a small casket and buried it in front of the church, next to a shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

"Father Kunz was an expert on Church [canon] law and was consulted by religious leaders across the country. He also performed exorcisms, and was venerated as a confessor. One long standing penitent of his says that 'When you went to confession to Father Kunz, you knew you were in the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'

"On Tuesday, March 3, 1998, he was dropped off at his parish by a fellow priest. On the morning of March 4, the first Wednesday in Lent, a young teacher found Father's body on the floor in the school wing of St. Michaels.

"Father Kunz was a friend of the late renowned theologian Father John Hardon, S.J., the late Father Charles Fiore, and the late Catholic author Malachi Martin."


(Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com)

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Matt C. Abbott
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