Monsignor Bob Kinkel leaving St. Clare
EDWARDS — When Monsignor Bob Kinkel came to St. Clare of Assisi’s 10 years ago, he wasn’t sure how he’d live with a school.
Now, he’s not sure how he’ll live without one.
“I jumped in and learned how to do this. I’m still learning,” Kinkel said.
It helped that he learned from the best. Sister Marirose runs St. Clare’s school these days. Before her it was Sister Rita Rae Schneider.
Kinkel, aka Father Bob, says he’s 71 years young. He’s being reassigned to St. Jude’s Parish in Lakewood.
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Father Bob’s eyes twinkle a little when he points out that St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases and lost causes.
“Who’s their Father Bob?”
Here’s the magic of a guy like Father Bob.
St. Clare is home to 160 bright students, and they’re all certain they’re his favorite.
For most of these kids, Kinkel is the only priest they’ve ever known, and therefore all priests are named Bob, or should be.
During his goodbye picnic, one girl looked up at her mom and asked, “Where’s Lakewood?”
“It’s around Denver,” her mother answered.
“Who’s their Father Bob?” the girl asked.
“It’s a great life. Being a priest is a wonderful calling. You’re always with people,” Kinkel said. “It’s these kinds of people who make it such a wonderful life.”
Kindergarten graduation was a couple days before St. Clare wrapped up its school year.
“You watch them grow into young adulthood, and you know they’re headed up the right path,” he said.
By the way, at the kindergarten graduation, God saw Father Bob’s and several other fathers’ eyes well up just a little.
They could have claimed they had sunscreen in their eyes, but the event was indoors. Besides, nothing good can come from lying in church, or anywhere else.
A day or so later was Field Day, where kids go outside and play in the sunshine.
Kids and adults laughed, they played, and almost all made their way over to say goodbye to Father Bob.
Middle schoolers Caitlin Bishop and Gretta Crems said they’re “disappointed.”
“They started kindergarten while I was here, and didn’t they grow up beautifully,” Kinkel said, holding out his arms toward the girls.
The stuff of life
Throughout the years he has married a few, buried a few, and everything in between … all the stuff of life.
“They become your family, and you become part of theirs,” Kinkel said.
Amanda Painter was part of St. Clare’s original faculty. She has survived cancer twice, and calls herself a testament to the power of prayer.
“He was by my side when we went through it,” Painter said.
“Those were some very intense times,” Kinkel said.
The archbishop decides where priests go, and when. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) decreed, among other things, that archbishops should move priests around every 12 years. Occasionally, archbishops decide to move people around sooner.
There aren’t that many priests on Colorado’s Western Slope, and they try to keep a low profile because it’s such a wonderful place, Kinkel said.
Father Jude Geilenkirchen is the assistant. He’s fluent in Spanish, which works out well because 85 percent of St. Clare’s parishioners speak Spanish.
Kinkel handles St. Clare in Edwards, St. Mary’s in Eagle and the services in the Beaver Creek Chapel.
“Priests here have three places to be, and that’s rare,” Kinkel said.
They’ll soon be home to a rectory that will house four priests.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.