Mass of Remembrance to be Celebrated on Tenth Anniversary of Bishop Ken Untener’s Death
WHAT: Mass of remembrance for the Most Rev. Kenneth Untener
WHEN: Noon on Thursday, March 27, 2014
WHERE: Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, 615 Hoyt Ave., Saginaw
SAGINAW —A Mass of remembrance will be celebrated at noon on Thursday, March 27, the tenth anniversary of the death of Bishop Ken Untener, fourth Bishop of Saginaw. All are welcome to attend the Mass at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw. The Rev. William Rutkowski, Vicar General of the Diocese of Saginaw, will preside.
Bishop Untener served as Bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw from 1980 until his death in 2004. Soon after coming to the diocese, he made headlines when he sold the bishop’s residence. As bishop, he moved 69 times from parish rectory to parish rectory, living as a roommate with his diocesan priests and somewhat from the trunk of his car.
“I remember one year, Bishop Ken mandated that all meetings in the diocese had to begin with this question, ‘What does this meeting have to do with assisting the poor?’” said Rev. Robert Deland, Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Freeland. “Bishop Ken was always very concerned with the well-being of the people of the diocese.”
Bishop Untener took the Diocese of Saginaw global with his legacy of seasonal "Little Books" of prayer for Lent, Easter and Advent/Christmas. First released in 2000, Little Books began as a diocesan Lenten project for Saginaw and today more than 3.5 million books are distributed worldwide, with books making their way into the hands of Catholics as far away as Australia.
“Bishop Ken was blessed with the most creative mind of anyone I have ever known personally and he used that gift so generously in teaching and preaching the Gospel and the Tradition of our Church,” said Rev. Robert Byrne, Pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish in Frankenmuth. “He was an effective ‘evangelizer’ in a time when most of us had not yet heard of evangelization.”
“He had a love for the scriptures and would memorize the Gospel readings for Mass,” said the Rev. James W. Bessert, director of the Office of Liturgy. “He had a very authentic concern for the poor.”
In addition to the ministry of his vocation – and despite his need for a prosthetic leg after losing part of his leg to a birth deformity – Bishop Untener also had a love for hockey. He was known to sometimes show up at the Nouvel Catholic Central High School team’s early morning hockey practices and challenge goalies.
Saginaw’s spiritual leader for more than 23 years, Bishop Untener died March 27, 2004 from leukemia.
The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was established by Pope Pius XI on Feb. 26, 1938. Today, it includes 6,955 square miles across Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Sanilac, Saginaw and Tuscola counties