Most Reverend Edward J. Hunkeler

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, October 9, 1970, Vol. 46, No. 41.]

Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler, third Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island and retired Archbishop of Kansas City and Kansas died at Crookston, Minn., Thursday night, Oct. 1, two days after an accident about 10 miles west of Crookston in northwestern Minnesota.

Authorities said an autopsy showed that he died from a cardiovascular respiratory condition rather than from his injuries. The attending physician said the autopsy disclosed the injuries sustained in the accident were not serious.

He was riding with Msgr. A. I. Merth, 77, of East Grand Forks, Minn., after attending the installation of Bishop Kenneth Povich at Crookston.

The Minnesota Highway Patrol said Msgr. Merth apparently lost control of his car as he passed another vehicle and went into a ditch. Msgr. Merth was reported in good condition.

Funeral services for Archbishop Hunkeler were conducted in St. Peter's cathedral in Kansas City Monday, Oct. 5. bishop John L. Paschang, who succeeded Archbishop Hunkeler as Bishop of Grand Island, was one of the concelebrants of the funeral Mass.

A more complete story of the funeral will appear in next week's issue of the Nebraska Register.

Archbishop Hunkeler was Vicar General of the Omaha diocese when he was named to the Grand Island see on March 19, 1945.

He was consecrated May 1 of that year in St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, by the Most Rev. Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States.


Co-consecrators were the Most. Rev. James H. Ryan, late bishop of Omaha, and Bishop Stanislaus Bona of Green Bay, second Bishop of Grand Island. The Most Rev. Henry P. Rohlman, Archbishop of Dubuque, was the preacher for the occasion.

Archbishop Hunkeler, the son of Anton and Philomena Durst Hunkeler, was born Jan. 1, 1894, in Medicine Lodge, Kans. His parents later moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he attended Holy Trinity school and St. Mary's institute (now incorporated into the University of Dayton).

He prepared for the priesthood in the Pontifical College Josephinum at Worthington, Ohio., and was ordained there June 14, 1919, for the Diocese of Omaha by the late Bishop James Hartley of Columbus.

His first assignment was as pastor of Sts. Philip and James' church, Wynot. In 1927 he was appointed pastor of Blessed Sacrament church in Omaha, and remained there until his appointment as rector of St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, in 1936.

He was named a Domestic Prelate in 1937 by Pope Pius XI. In 1944 he was appointed Vicar General of the Omaha diocese, and also served as a Diocesan Consultor.

On March 28, 1951, he was appointed Bishop of Kansas City in Kansas, and, when the Diocese was made an Archdiocese, he became the first Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on Aug. 9, 1952. Archbishop Hunkeler retired as Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on Sept. 10, 1969.

During the six years that he was Bishop of Grand Island, Archbishop Hunkeler ordained 16 young men to the priesthood, all but one for the service of the Diocese of Grand Island.

In 1949 he established Blessed Sacrament parish in Grand Island which has since become the third largest parish in the diocese, with only the Cathedral parish in Grand Island and St. Patrick's in North Platte larger.

Because Bishop Hunkeler was the Bishop of the Diocese in the years immediately following World War II, and since building had been restricted during the war, a large number of new churches and other religious institutions were built during the time he was Bishop of Grand Island.