FutureChurch mourns the death of long-time friend and associate Sr. Kate Kuenster, PHJC, JCD and remembers her life and work with profound gratitude.
Sr. Kate died on Monday, October 28, 2019 after an extended illness.
“As a canon lawyer who passionately sought justice for Catholics, Sr. Kate was an integral part of FutureChurch’s Save Our Parish Community effort providing resources and assistance to parishioners who resisted unjust closures and mergers of their parishes,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Co-Director of FutureChurch. “Beginning in 2007 up until her death, she served hundreds of parishioners who sought her wise counsel and her skills as a canon lawyer when they learned their parish was being closed or merged.”
“As part of a truly dynamic team, Sr. Kate and Sr. Chris Schenk, executive director at FutureChurch at the time, joined forces to develop resources for parishioners to download to help them file appeals to save their parish communities,” said Marie Graf, FutureChurch Board of Trustee. “Those resources continue to be available and widely used today thanks to their visionary work.”
Once told that she had “little to no chance of winning” parish closure cases, Sr. Kate developed strategies that broke new ground in defending parish rights.
In 2012, Sr. Kate received FutureChurch’s Louis Trivison award for her prophetic work helping keep at least 38 parishes open after being threatened with closure and her forceful influence that helped change Vatican policy from an automatic acceptance of US bishops’ decisions to close parishes to one that preserved parish homes. She was also instrumental in keeping 13 parishes open in the Diocese of Cleveland after 50 had been slated to close.
As a pioneer in the field, Sr. Kate’s willingness to challenge the corporate mentality of bishops as they sought to close parishes is chronicled in the 2017 documentary, Foreclosing on Faith.
“We are deeply grateful for the work and the tenacious spirit of Sr. Kate,” said Russ Petrus, Co-Director of FutureChurch. “Her legacy will live on as we continue to carry out the Save Our Parish Community work.”