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Requiem Mass honors murdered priest on 20th anniversary of his death

(NBC15)
Published: Mar. 3, 2018 at 6:34 PM CST
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Dozens gathered at St. Mary's Church in Pine Bluffs on Saturday morning for a Requiem Mass.

The Requiem Mass was held to pray for the soul of Father Kunz, who was murdered 20 years ago. The Diocese noted that a Requiem Mass is not a celebration of life, but rather a gathering to pray for the souls of the dead.

Sunday, March 4th, 2018 marks 20 years since Father Kunz was murdered in St. Michael Church in Dane. The case is still unsolved, but authorities continue to investigate his death.

Parishioners attending the Requiem Mass, though, choose to focus on the work of his life, rather than the mystery of his death.

"There's so many conspiracy theories out there and I'm not landing on any one of those. I'm waiting to see the unadulterated truth," said Father Richard Heilman.

Another attendee, Peter Kelly, hosted a Catholic radio program with Father Kunz every Sunday.

"The last thing I remember is his laughter. And that was the evening of the terrible assault," recalled Kelly.

Though gone 20 years, Father Kunz's legacy lives on in the memories of Parishioners.

"They deeply love Father Kunz," said Father Heilman, "He was a pioneer in that he was restoring the sense of the supernatural in the sacred way he offered the Mass."

"This is a man who would counsel the soon-to-be-married, baptize their babies, teach their children, hear their confessions, administer the sacraments. People would not want to die until Father came to the hospital to give them their last rights. That's the kind of Priest he was," Kelly explained.