Dear God, you know my heart, and you know my needs and even my desires better than I do. And you love me more than I love myself. Answer my prayers in a way that will be best for me, and then give me the patience and faith to accept your will. Amen. — Father Richard Kunst
It is always a privilege to acknowledge the Curator on the anniversary of his ordination. More important than the work of his Collection is the work of his priesthood of which the Collection is only a part. The countless hours of prayer, the liturgy and administration of 3 parishes and 2 schools is daunting even to think about. He is, without a doubt, a gift to his parishes and diocese–and to those of you who follow his website, which often features, along with his Collection, commentaries he has written and experiences he has had in Rome and elsewhere.
Of Blessed Paul VI, it has been said he was, among other things, “a man of infinite courtesy– a brilliant man, deeply spiritual, humble, and reserved and gentle.” For those who know Father Kunst, all of that is true as well–with a great measure of mirth, silliness, and fun thrown into the mix!
We wish you all God’s blessings, Father Kunst, on this, your 19th anniversary, and we thank you for the gift of your life to our Church.
The Curator’s Devotion to Popes, Saints, His Family & His Parish
We recently were privy to the excitement surrounding the latest acquisition to the Papal Artifacts’ Collection, A Train Pass Issued to Fr. Karol Wojtyla. The exuberance displayed in Father Kunst’s demeanor upon acquiring this artifact of such a great saint was palpable.
This is only one of many purchases that has allowed him to have the most extensive collection of papal and other Catholic artifacts outside of the Vatican.
And it is not only his devotion to such a commitment that makes Papal Artifacts so invaluable, but also it is his continued interest and dedication to his mission regarding it: the ability to use all of these items and, often, the experiences connected to them, as teaching tools. He always says, “You cannot love what you do not know. This Collection is a way to know about our faith in an unusual and diverse manner.”
A Look at the Curator as Pastor in His School
God Made Us a Family
On any given weekday when 11:00 approaches, classroom work is suspended. Books are closed, papers and pencils are put away, and lunch and recess are about to begin. Down the halls can be heard the prayer of blessing before meals, and then the clamoring for snow clothes commences. It’s time to play or eat, and everyone is ready. Lunch begins.
Each day the teachers of the little ones escort their classes to lunch and help with trays and silverware. Father Rich reminds them of the “magic words”—please and thank you. The ritual is the same every day as the children find their favorite spots to sit and visit, laugh raucously and sometimes start or settle disagreements with friends. Sometimes they get reprimanded for the noise level breaking our eardrums, or for wasting their food or for refusing to eat ANYTHING.
The lunch room is a cacophony of voices and stories where food is the least of the things going on. A choreographer could enter and observe the energy and exuberance of our school and create a dance of life spun from the imagination and enthusiasm of our kids.
As if there isn’t enough noise? The Pastor joins in the fun!
Where else does a Pastor take time from his busy schedule to supervise the lunch room? Father Rich appears, and the noise level rises by decibels as all of them clamor for his attention. Soon, at his goading, the food they’re eating takes on a whole new dimension: the spaghetti is angle worms; the chicken fingers become squirrel tails; bacon arrives from his back-yard bacon tree. (We think Father Rich doesn’t have enough to do…!) The kids hoot and holler at his imagination, and the little ones fall for the descriptions, wondering what they’re really eating. Father Rich brings a level of fun to the lunch room the rest of us cannot, and we appreciate this gift that is uniquely his own.
Lunch is the one place that on a daily basis the students come together every day. It is such a beautiful slice of life, a place different from their classrooms, where their own gifts are given and received in special ways, where they can witness the love and support of Father Rich and their principal and partake of Mrs. Curtis’ tasty lunches. It truly is a special part of the day!
God Made Us a Parish Family. We need one another. We love one another. We forgive one another. We work together. We play together. We worship together. Together we use God’s word. Together we grow in Christ. Together we love all people. Together we serve our God. Together we hope for heaven. These are our hopes and ideals. Help us to attain them, O God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
About the Papal Artifacts’ Collection in His Own Words
As a high school senior, I had an assignment in my Government class to write to a politician. I chose President Jimmy Carter. He sent me an autographed photo of himself and his wife and that started my interest in autographs. I began researching celebrity addresses in all fields–sports, music, politics, movies, and more–and wrote letters to these various stars. After spending hundreds of dollars in postage, I amassed a fairly large collection.
My interest then turned toward historical autographs, particularly of past presidents. I started getting subscriptions to various autograph dealers and, though I was a student, I was able to buy a nice autograph from time to time. At one point, I had autographs of 16 presidents, dating back to President Martin Van Buren.
In 1995, I received an autograph dealer catalog that offered three different papal autographs for auction. It was the first time I had ever seen a signature of a Pope made available–in a way I was shocked that they even existed. I had to get a loan from my sister, but in the end I won two of the three papal items–autographs of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, both as cardinals.
This is what started my bug for papal and religious autographs. Not long after, I was able to add signatures of Pius VII and Pius IX. Eventually I lost all interest in modern day celebrities, as well as presidential autographs. I sold nearly the entire collection. With that money, I was able to purchase a number of other fine autographs with religious themes.
After being ordained to the priesthood, I finally had a steady income to put towards the collection. At the same time, the World Wide Web was a phenomenal source of leads for rare items. I made contact with several manuscript dealers throughout Europe and was able to access great items at very good prices.
I continue my search for old, rare, and unique papal items, from documents to papal clothing. The collection is always growing.
I am often asked what I intend to do with this collection. It has always been and remains my intent to donate it to the Church where it may be enjoyed forever. At the present time I am seeking a location where it may be displayed rather than kept in archival conditions. However, because of the rarity and age of the artifacts, this would demand museum quality conditions where storage of the artifacts could be closely monitored. An ideal situation would be a Catholic college or university interested in showing this very valuable and historical collection. —Father Richard Kunst