October 29, 2021

Msgr. Harold Knueven led parishes across central and southern Indiana

By Sean Gallagher

Msgr. Harold KnuevenMsgr. Harold Knueven, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, died on Oct. 17 at his home in Connersville. He was 89.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Oct. 22 at St. Paul Church in New Alsace, which is on one of the campuses of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant of the liturgy. Retired Father Francis Eckstein was the homilist.

Burial will follow at the convenience of Msgr. Knueven’s family at St. Paul Cemetery in New Alsace.

Retired Father Francis Eckstein knew Msgr. Knueven for 75 years, from the time both were entering priestly formation as high school freshman just after World War II at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

Both were from southeastern Indiana and often rode together to Saint Meinrad. And they were ordained priests with several other men for the archdiocese in 1958.

Father Eckstein appreciated how his friend from the start valued fraternity among priests and their families.

“Right after we were ordained, he came up with the idea of having our families get together for a meal two or three times a year,” Father Eckstein said. “Then he also had just the classmates almost monthly for a meal and a chance to sit and talk and share our experiences. He was great in coordinating things like that, keeping people in touch with one another.”

That love for priestly fraternity remained strong in Msgr. Knueven. Some 30 years after he was ordained, he was serving as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Jeffersonville when Father Gerald Renn, pastor of St. Michael Parish in nearby Charlestown, was dying of cancer.

“Father Renn had very little family, so Msgr. Knueven saw to it that the priests in the New Albany Deanery took turns sitting with him while he was dying,” Father Eckstein recalled. “He was good at having people be together. He was always working to keep the priests together.”

Father Vincent Lampert, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Brookville and St. Peter Parish in Franklin County, served as an associate pastor under Msgr. Knueven from 1994-95 at Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood.

During that time, he saw that Msgr. Knueven didn’t just value community among priests. It also extended to the parishioners that he served.

“He was a very kind and compassionate priest,” Father Lampert said. “He always made time for people who came to him. And he was always willing to help anybody in need, even if it meant taking something out of his own pocket. He didn’t hesitate to do that.”

The care and concern shown by Msgr. Knueven wasn’t limited to him giving of his time and possessions. He also showed people his heart.

“In dealing with other people, he wasn’t afraid to weep and cry, to be emotional with people,” Father Lampert said. “He’d have tears in his eyes just talking with people, whether it was in spending time with a priest or with parishioners. He would cry with the best of them.”

While having a pastoral heart, Msgr. Knueven also had a mind for the practicalities of parish administration. He began the projects of building a new church for Our Lady of the Greenwood and of moving the campus of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg.

“[He] laid a lot of the groundwork for growth in parishes,” Father Lampert said. “He may not have been the one to bring everything to fruition. But he was the one who helped to put the pieces of the puzzle in place, which helped those parishes to grow, move and build.”

Prayer was at the heart of his entire priestly life and ministry, said Msgr. Knueven in a 2008 interview with The Criterion at the time of the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

“The important thing is to say Mass every day and say the Divine Office every day,” said Msgr. Knueven, who started perpetual adoration chapels at Our Lady of the Greenwood and at St. Mary parishes. “I wouldn’t survive if I didn’t say my prayers.”

Harold Leo Knueven was born in New Alsace on July 21, 1932, to the late John and Leona (Easley) Knueven and grew up in the former St. Paul Parish there.

After graduating from the former St. Paul School, Msgr. Knueven became an archdiocesan seminarian and received his priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

He earned a bachelor of sacred theology degree at Saint Meinrad and later a master’s degree in history at Butler University in Indianapolis.

Archbishop Paul C. Schulte ordained Msgr. Knueven a priest on May 3, 1958, at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln in St. Meinrad. Msgr. Knueven celebrated his first Mass the following day at St. Paul Church in New Alsace.

His first pastoral assignment was as associate pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, where he served from 1958-62. At that time, he began ministry as associate pastor of the former St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Indianapolis while also serving as a full-time instructor at the former Latin School of Indianapolis, the archdiocese’s high school seminary at the time.

From 1971-75, Msgr. Knueven served as co-pastor of the former St. Bernadette Parish in Indianapolis while continuing on the faculty of the Latin School.

After leaving the faculty of the high school seminary, Msgr. Knueven ministered as pastor of several parishes for the next 25 years: St. Gabriel Parish in Connersville from 1975-82; St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis from 1982-88;

St. Augustine Parish in Jeffersonville from 1988-93; and Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood from 1993-2003.

He received the title of monsignor as a prelate of honor in 1997 and served as dean of the Indianapolis South Deanery from 2002-03.

Msgr. Knueven retired from active ministry in 2003, but resumed ministry the following year as administrator of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, which he led until his retirement for medical reasons in 2014.

Msgr. Knueven is survived by a sister, Charlene Rauch of Yorkville, and two brothers, Joe Knueven of Greensburg and Willard Knueven of Sunman.

Memorial contributions can be sent to St. Gabriel School, 224 W. Ninth St., Connersville, IN 47331, or to St. Paul Cemetery in care of All Saint Parish, 25743 State Road 1, Guilford, IN 47022. †

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