Fr. Kempen served as a teacher from 1948 to 1970 at St. Norbert High School, De Pere; Southeast Catholic High School, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Abbot Pennings High School, De Pere, where he also served as vice principal for six years.
He also served in parish ministry in the Green Bay Diocese. Fr. Kempen was pastor at St. Louis Parish, Dyckesville; St. Boniface Parish, De Pere; Holy Cross, Bay Settlement; and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Tisch Mills. Out of state, he served as pastor of St. Margaret Parish, Cut Bank, Mont.
Fr. Kempen celebrated his 60th anniversary as a Norbertine priest on June 3, 2011. He reflected on his religious life including his ministry for the Diocese of Green Bay. When he completed his nine years as pastor at Holy Cross Parish, Fr. Kempen recalled receiving a letter from a parish member.
“He told me that he prayed for me at Mass and asked God to send a priest like me to Holy Cross upon my departure,” said Fr. Kempen.
He recalled letters of gratitude from Tisch Mills parishioners, including one about his presence in the confessional.
“She so appreciated my ‘feverino,’ took it to heart and made great changes in her life,” he explained. “Later, while pastor at this same parish, the bishop forwarded a letter that he had received from a parishioner requesting that I never be moved from the parish so that I might be able to be there forever.”
Other positions held by Fr. Kempen include chaplain for the Knights of Columbus and vicar for Vicariate VII of the diocese. Fr. Kempen is survived by the Norbertine Community; one brother, Bernard (Patricia); two sisters, Bernice Gevaert, Rose Ann (Don) Polley, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Bernard and Clara (Gevers) Kempen; six brothers; Marvin, Albert, Gilbert, Adrian, Raphael, and Norman; three sisters, Johanna Kempen, Marie Jansen and Elaine Deacon.
A funeral Mass was held at St. Norbert Abbey Sept. 20. Norbertine Abbot Gary Neville presided. Burial followed in the St. Norbert Cemetery.