Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
Stempfle passionate about priesthood
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
"There is more to life than golf," laughs candidly Father Frank Stempfle, a golf enthusiast who plays the game at least three to four times a week.
Stempfle, 75, is also passionate about his priesthood, which he says has been full of joys, challenges and satisfaction.
"I love my priesthood and bringing the Mass to people on Sundays and on weekdays," he says matter-of-factly. "Iíve been happy to bring this service to people and thatís a satisfaction."
Stempfle is something of a star at St. Patrick Parish in the Alberta Avenue District, where he has served for 24 of his 50 years as a priest. The 120-family parish marked his 25th anniversary, his 40th and now his 50th.
"I love the people here and these people are so easy to be a priest for and itís really a two way street. I guess they appreciate me and they love me and I love them back."
Stempfleís 50th anniversary party will be held June 7 with a 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Patrick Church, 11811-96 St., followed by a 7:30 p.m. dinner at Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre.
Stempfle was born in 1926 at a farm near Strome to German immigrant parents.
"They would take us to Mass every Sunday even when it was 30 below." He also recalls admiring his parish priest, Father Ralph Malone, a good and generous man who would take at least 20 young boys camping to the lake every summer. "That had an influence on me."
He was also influenced by the Franciscans who run Edmontonís St. Anthonyís College, where he studied from 1942 to 1945. "Around Grade 12 the priests were telling us that we would get a call from God and that we shouldnít ignore that call."
Stempfle had already felt called by God and decided to follow the advice of the Franciscans. "I went to the seminary to give it a try," he related. "I havenít look back since."
He was ordained at his home parish in Rosenheim, near Provost, by Archbishop Hugh MacDonald in 1952.
After his ordination he moved frequently around Alberta and served in several small Alberta towns. He served in Winfield, Consort, Hardisty, Galahad and Wainwright prior to arriving at St. Patrickís and spending the next 32 years in Edmonton.
In Wainwright he helped build a new church and rectory and learned to fly small engine airplanes, a pastime he kept for many years. On weekdays, when the planes and the field were not booked, he would fly everyday, becoming an expert pilot.
"I said, ĎIím having so much fun as a priest. I donít know if I should have this much fun in the priesthood.í"
Stempfle came to St. Patrickís in 1970. He spent seven years there when he became parish priest at Assumption Parish in south Edmonton. He returned to St. Patrickís in 1985 and has been there ever since.
He has been happy at St. Patrick, except for two episodes in the parish life he wishes he had missed: the murder of the parish caretaker in 1976 and the torching of the church the following year.
"He is a very good man besides being a very good parish priest," commented Kay Mason, chair of St. Patrickís Parish council. "He performs so many acts of kindness. He has a wonderful sense of humour and his a good golfer."
Archdiocesan planners have already decided the future of St. Patrick Parish and want to amalgamate all the parishes along 118th Avenue. St. Patrickís will close when Stempfle retires, which he vows wonít be soon. "As long as my health is good, I will stay on. Maybe one year, maybe two or even three. Who knows?" he said.