Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

R. D. Gerald Bernard Kempen, O. Praem.

Birth: July 23, 1926

Death: September 17, 2011

House: St. Norbert Abbey

Our brother Gerald Kempen was born in West DePere in 1926, attended St. Boniface Elementary School and St. Norbert High School before entering the Order in 1944. After receiving a B.A. from the college in 1948, he began teaching at St. Norbert High. He professed solemn vows in 1949 and was ordained to the presbyterate in 1951.

After attending the Preacher’s Institute at Catholic University in 1952, Jerry was appointed to the faculty of Southeast Catholic to teach American and European history. In 1956, while sandwiching summer and evening sessions into his teaching schedule, Jerry joined his brother Norbertines at Bishop Neumann High School with an M.A. in History from Villanova University; he garnered an M.A. in Education from Villanova in 1958.

Beginning in 1961, Jerry served as Vice-Principal at Abbot Pennings High School for six years. To his administrative role, he also functioned as temporary pastor at St. Peter’s in Lincoln, WI in 1970, and later that year became pastor of St. Louis in Dykesville. In 1977 he was named pastor of his home parish of St. Boniface; in 1980, the pastor of St. Margaret in Cut Bank, Montana and in 1984, the pastor of Holy Cross in Bay Settlement. Jerry rounded out his pastorships at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Tisch Mills before retiring to the abbey. During his active years he was also the Chaplain for the DePere branch of the Knights of Columbus and the Vicar of Vicariate VII of the Green Bay Diocese.

Coming from a large family of 12 children, Jerry’s retirement years were filled with visits to and from his many relatives and friends. He was seen daily offering or participating at the retirees Mass in Nativity Chapel, chanting the Liturgy of the Hours, or scooting around the abbey in his motorized wheelchair. As a great lover of animals from his early youth as a farm boy, spare time was dedicated to birthing and training his many dogs.

Jerry died on this day in 2011 of heart problems, diabetes and cancer at the age of 85.

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