By Bud Sueppel
In the April 15 Catholic Messenger, I read that 18 priests of our diocese were being moved to new assignments on July 1. We should all pray for these 18 men as they begin their new ministries.
On a personal level, Father Ken Kuntz has been at St. Mary’s in Iowa City for 16 years (I have been a florist for 35 years — I’m glad no one asked me to relocate after 16 years!). Fr. Ken has gotten the young, the old, the middle-aged parishioners involved in the life of our parish! He has an excellent staff. Father Jeff Belger goes out and plays volleyball with the students at Regina Catholic Education Center; Rachel Santos is so helpful to anyone who comes to our parish offices; Patti McTaggart coordinates wonderful music and musicians, and Sister Agnes Giblin knows everybody in Iowa City and everybody knows her!
Fr. Ken goes to every sport, music, dramatic and other event at Regina and, as everyone knows, it is always great to see a priestly presence in our schools! Fr. Ken visits all of his parishioners when they are in the hospital and spends Tuesday afternoons visiting the homebound.
Fr. Ken is foremost a magnificent liturgist. Our Sunday Masses are so beautiful at St. Mary’s that as you leave, you can actually feel as if God is walking right beside you! St. Mary Church and rectory are well preserved and stunning in appearance because Fr. Ken has helped maintain their beauty and integrity.
On a personal level, people in the diocese do not realize how much Fr. Ken has helped and comforted the Sueppel family and all we have been through. He was there for us whenever we needed him — in the happier moments of our lives and in all the difficult ones.
I have been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for 71 years and this is the saddest I have felt over a priest leaving — and we have had some great ones!
St. Mary’s is the largest parish in our diocese. Regina Junior/Senior High School and Elementary are fantastic schools for our Catholic youth. We have one of the best universities in the Midwest and the largest university in Iowa. Iowa City is home to marvelous hospitals as well. Iowa City is also a central part of the diocese. As long as we have all these changes, I suggest we change the diocesan offices to Iowa City!
Fr. Ken, Fr. Jeff and Father David Wilkening: If you all weren’t moving so far away, I’d still come deliver the roses each week to the Blessed Mother for each of your new parishes. I know in my heart that the Blessed Mother will continue to smile down on each of you for being such faithful servants in the church.
(Bud Sueppel is a member of St. Mary Parish in Iowa City.)