Kurt Guenther, 85, of Omaha, died February 21, 2023, at his home in Omaha.
Memorial Mass Saturday, March 11. 2023, 10:30 A.M.
St. Benedict Center, Schuyler, Nebraska
Kurt was born June 9, 1937, in Bad Durkheim, Germany. He was a chef for the St. Benedict community for many years and is survived by them.
Kurt Joseph Guenther
born June 1937
died February 2023
Listen carefully to the master’s instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart.
Prologue, verse 1 - The Rule of St. Benedict
Throughout his life, Kurt was attentive to the Lord’s teaching and put these into action wherever he worked, reaching out to others, assisting where help was necessary, putting his own needs last. The monks of Christ the King Priory can attest to this. Kurt was employed by them as cook and housekeeper from 1973 until 1982 and again from 2010 until 2015.
Kurt was born in Bad Duerkheim in the State of Rhineland-Palatinate on June 9, 1937, to Friedrich and Maria Guenter and baptized on June 20 at St. Ludwig Catholic Church. He grew up with his siblings Ria, Karl (killed in action during WWII), Herbert, Hans, and Fritz. Observing his father in the family-owned bakery fostered natural skills that Kurt used later in life as baker and cook.
Kurt graduated from primary school in 1952. He enrolled in the trade school of the Abbey of Muensterschwarzach, Lower Franconia, where he trained as stonemason from January 1953 to August 1956 under Br. Bernhard Zeh, O.S.B. During these years, baroque artifacts at abbey buildings were masterly restored and new stone sculptures created. Kurt joined the Missionary Benedictines in 1954 and professed monastic vows on September 26, 1956.
In 1962, Kurt received an assignment that had Schuyler, NE, as its destination. He was involved in the mission procure, visiting friends and benefactors, in addition to other duties. The path of life changed when he petitioned to be released from his vows which was granted in March 1966.
Kurt moved to California where he found employment for the next eight years in pursuit of the American dream. In 1973, while visiting Muensterschwarzach Abbey in Germany, he learned that the community in Schuyler is looking for a cook. Kurt accepted the job offer. It was not an easy one. Three meals each day, garden and household chores kept the quiet and private person busy. His routine included daily Eucharist and Evening Prayer with the monks.
In 1982, Kurt accepted a job offer as kitchen manager and chef for the Jesuit community at Creighton Prep Highschool in Omaha. The lunch crowd included Jesuits, staff, and teachers. For his frequent visits to Schuyler, he welcomed Jesuits or students to be his companions for the ride, introducing them the Schuyler Benedictines.
Kurt put his artistic skills to good use by creating magnificent ice sculptures for various events and even transported these all the way to Schuyler for Christmas parties or other occasions. The walk-in cooler at Creighton Prep’s kitchen became the artist’s studio and the walk-in freezer the perfect storage until the sculpture needed to be moved to the event venue.
Retirement was a word that did not fit into Kurt’s life. He worked in the bakery and kitchen of the Omaha Country Club, volunteered at the cafeteria of his parish school, visited his friends at Gerda’s German Restaurant, and kept regular hours in private prayer and adoration.
In 2010, the position of cook for the monks opened again and Kurt accepted the invitation to move back to the cook’s apartment at Christ the King Priory. The workload was somewhat lighter since the monastery’s employees took care of housekeeping and gardening chores. In May 2015, Kurt moved back to Omaha, now fully retired. He made his home in the Regency area. St. Robert Bellarmine parish became his spiritual home, but the connection to the Jesuit community and Missionary Benedictines of Schuyler never ceased.
Kurt visited the community one last time on Christmas Day 2022. The shocking news of his passing came on February 21, the day before the Lenten Season 2023 started.
Throughout his life, Kurt followed the opening sentence from the Rule of St. Benedict. May he now enjoy the never-ending joy of heaven with his Lord who gifted him with a listening heart.
Kurt was preceded in death by his parents and siblings. His memory will be kept alive by those whose life he touched in his gentle way or culinary delights.
The Memorial Mass for Kurt, followed by internment of his ashes at the cemetery of Christ the King Priory, will be offered at St. Benedict Center on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 10:30 AM.
Kracl Funeral Chapel of Schuyler is in charge of arrangements, together with the monks of Christ the King Priory.