Father Rudolph G. Kneuer, MM
Born: August 5, 1918
Ordained: June 10, 1945
Died: September 9, 1986
“I have chosen you from the world, says the. Lord, to go and bear fruit that will last.” (Jn. 15:16)
On the feast of the great missioner St. Peter Claver, September 9, 1986, Father Rudolph Kneuer died. He had been admitted a few days earlier to Los Arcos Hospital in Guatemala City where he died. He was 68 years old.
Father Kneuer, known to Maryknollers as “Rudy”, attributed his vocation to three factors: a) a talk given by Fr. John Martin, while Rudy was, in 4th year high school; b) a short visit to the Venard; c) a visit to the Knoll and a chat with Fr. Eugene Higgins. Rudy wrote later, “The combination of these 3 experiences confirmed my choice of Maryknoll.”
Rudy was born in Ozone Park, N.Y. on August 5, 1918. After studying six years at Cathedral College, he applied to Maryknoll and was accepted, entering in September of 1938. He was ordained on June 10, 1945 and assigned to Kweilin, China. In those days the new missioners spent a year of Chinese study in San Francisco before leaving. He arrived in China in November of 1946. His career in China was hazardous and abrupt. The communist forces were on the march and his mission in Chuansien was searched and people constantly harassed. Fr. Rudy was sent to another area called Laipo where he stayed and was confined to the compound. All buildings were confiscated and used by the soldiers. In early 1951 all the Christians were threatened with arrest if they attended Sunday services. Most of the rectory was sealed off in June of that year. Rudy was finally expelled from mainland China and arrived back in the U.S. in August, 1951.
Those difficult years did not dampen his spirits or his zeal for mission. The same week he arrived from China his superior noted in his records: “Father Kneuer is quite willing to accept any assignment we may give him, though he hopes the assignment will be a mission one.” In 1952 he was assigned to Guatemala. During the next thirty-four years he served the Society faithfully in whatever task was given him. He worked in the Development Department, and served two terms as Treasurer General of Maryknoll. He was elected twice to the Regional Councils. One of his great missionary assignments was his work and ministry to the poor of El Salvador and Guatemala.
What are the missionary qualities his superiors noted in him? “Honesty, loyalty, good judgment, steady, efficient, kind and courteous, dependable and a man of prayer.”
Describing his experiences in China, Rudy ended the short report in the following words: “Finally all was over and we were allowed to proceed through the barbed wire to the free side of the border. What a wonderful feeling My Mass the next morning really and sincerely, expressed my gratitude to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother for their protection and help in the past two years.” This was a recurring attitude in the life of Father Rudy Kneuer.
The Communion Antiphon of the Mass on the day of his death reads: “The Lord sent disciples to proclaim to all towns the Kingdom of God is very near to you.” It is our prayer that Rudy has entered into the Reign which he preached and for which he gave his whole life.
The burial Mass was celebrated on September 10 in Guatemala City, parish of Villa de Guadalupe. Bishop Hugo Martinez of Huehuetenango was principal Celebrant and Fr. William Mullan, Regional Superior, was the Homilist. Fr. Carroll Quinn, a classmate, blessed the body at the cemetery.
A memorial Mass was celebrated at the Center here on September 15, with Fr. Edward Manning as principal Celebrant, Fr. Richard Callahan as Homilist. The General Council and Fr. Norbert Rans were present in the Sanctuary.