Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 1, 1999
Kuefler was enthusiastic preacher
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Give him an altar and an audience and Father Juniper Kuefler would always have something to say. Give him a fishing rod and looming rain clouds and he'd run for cover.
"His greatest love was preaching," said Father Mathias Kuefler of his older brother Juniper, who died Feb. 18. "He was an enthusiastic preacher and teacher."
But enthusiasm was not a word Kuefler would use to describe his brother's less than Daniel Boone-esque relationship with the great outdoors.
"I took him fishing one time," Kuefler said. "We were going to start casting at the shore. We did our first cast and then felt one sprinkle, one drop of rain and that was enough for him. He went back, sat in the car and waited for us."
When he visited his brother's house on the Sylvan Lake, Juniper Kuefler admired the scenery from the living room side of the glass window.
"He was afraid a mosquito would bite him or something," Mathias Kuefler laughed.
The true definition of enthusiasm lies not in the romps among the greens and wildlife, but in Juniper Kuefler's love for preaching.
"He's very excitable," Mathias Kuefler said of his brother. "He was an excellent teacher. He taught with enthusiasm. He preached with enthusiasm."
Juniper Kuefler, 80, passed away in Red Deer after suffering a minor heart attack. Following funeral services Feb. 22 at Sacred Heart Church, he was cremated.
Born and raised in Galahad, Juniper Kuefler was the second of 10 children. At the age of five, he became the town's first altar server.
He attended St. Anthony's Seminary in Quebec and later earned a bachelor of arts from Laval University. This was followed by theology studies at the Franciscan Seminary in Montreal, where his Franciscan brothers tagged him with the name Juniper.
He also completed graduate studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Laval, the University of Alberta and other universities in Munich, Belgium and France.
He was ordained at St. Francis Church in 1946.
He held teaching positions at St. Anthony's College and with the Edmonton Separate School Board. He served in parishes in Fort Saskatchewan and Calgary.
Eugene Ruzicka, 75, remembers Kuefler when he was the pastor in Viking.
"He started each sermon with a Johnny story," Ruzicka said referring to the generic Johnny name Kuefler used in many of his anecdotes. "He was a very religious man . . . but he always seem to put a little bit of humour into whatever he said.
"He was a very, very, and underline that, great speaker."
Kuefler's jokes and wit were also popular with the parish's youngsters.
"Our grandchildren enjoyed being with him," Eugene Ruzicka said. "And they rated him higher than Santa Claus."
Juniper Kuefler was an avid reader and kept his mind churning by immersing himself in such projects as stamp collecting.
"He collected stamps right to his dying day," Mathias Kuefler said.
He also published a book, The Heart of the Herresbach, a history of his family dating back 10 generations. Even after his death, letters are still coming in with information for his book.
"I was so amazed at all the names he found," Mathias Kuefler said of his brother's book. "He didn't have any patience, but he had a stick-to-it-iveness. He was always in a hurry to do things, but he stuck with it till it was done."
Among his other traits, Mathias Kuefler remembers his brother as a well-organized man with a take-charge attitude.
"I told my brother Edwin that (Juniper) reminds me of a blue jay," Mathias Kuefler said. "When a blue jay flies in, all the other birds fly away and let the blue jay take charge."
Mathias said his brother had tried to admit himself into a nursing home after he retired, but was denied "because they said he wasn't sick enough."
"And it reminds me of an epitaph I saw in England of this lady," Mathias said with a slight chuckle. "On the bottom it said 'I told you I was sick.' I thought of that when (Juniper) died."