Biographies

Brother Ambrose Van Kempen, MM

Born: October 16, 1888
Oath: September 11, 1930
Died: February 12, 1946

Christian J. Van Kempen was born in Nymegen, Holland on October 16, 1888. He came to the United States in 1911. Before entering Maryknoll he engaged in a variety of occupations. Over a period of ten years he worked as a coal miner, a carpenter, an employee of a lumber mill, and for the National Biscuit Company. He enlisted in the Army during World War I and served as a baker for fourteen months, nine of them overseas. In 1918 he became an American citizen.

In March, 1926 Christian joined Maryknoll and from 1929 to 1940 he was assigned to Los Angeles where he did maintenance work at the Japanese mission and drove the bus for the mission school.

When he took his Perpetual Oath in September of 1933 Father James A. Walsh wrote the following letter: “Your loyalty and faithful service to God in the Society have been a deep consolation to your superiors wherever you have been stationed. We know that you will continue in the same spirit until the end and the great reward.”

In the summer of 1940 he was transferred to Seattle. The following year his superior wrote of him: “Brother Ambrose fits into the little community at Seattle admirably. Besides driving one of the buses, he takes care of the mechanical equipment around the school and church.”

In 1942, following the removal of Japanese from the West Coast, he was transferred to Maryknoll, N.Y. to keep the mechanical appliances in the Field Afar Building and offices in good working order.

In November of 1945 Brother went to Holland for three months to visit his family. On the day before he was to return to Maryknoll, February 12, he fell suddenly ill and died the same day. On February 15 he was buried in the crypt of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin at the Church of St. Augustine in Nymegen, Holland.