ALLOUEZ — Only weeks after marking the 20-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Franciscan Fr. Robert Konkol, 68, died unexpectedly Nov. 10. Fr. Konkol, known as “Fr. Bob” to those he served, was pastor at Assumption BVM Parish, Pulaski; St. Casimir Parish, Krakow; and St. Stanislaus Parish, Hofa Park; at the time of his death.
Fr. Konkol, a Stevens Point native, was the oldest of nine children in his family — six boys and three girls. His Catholic education began at St. Peter School in his hometown. Fr. Konkol then completed his secondary education at St. Joseph School for Brothers in Pulaski.
In 1965, he was accepted as a brother candidate at Assumption BVM Friary, Pulaski. Following a number of years in the order, he decided to enroll at St. Norbert College, De Pere, where he received a degree in history in 1975.
His education also included earning a Master of Divinity at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and classes at DePaul University in Chicago and UW-Stevens Point. The love of learning was constant throughout his life. Fr. Konkol was an avid reader with interests in Scripture, anthropology, geology, Native American history and architecture.
In 1988, Fr. Konkol applied to join the Assumption BVM Province as a postulant. A year later, he was received into the novitiate for the order at St. Mary of the Angels Church, Green Bay. He professed solemn vows in 1993 and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Roger Kaffer on Oct. 22, 1994, at Resurrection Parish in Wayne, Ill., where he had served as a deacon. His first assignment following ordination was as associate pastor at Resurrection.
Fr. Konkol served seven years at Guardian of Peace Friary in Burlington, Wis. His ministry included caring for the elderly friars of the province.
In 2002, Fr. Konkol was appointed chaplain at St. Anthony School in Milwaukee. He was also assigned to serve as assistant director of vocations. In 2005, he was appointed associate pastor at St. Sebastian Parish in Sturtevant, Wis.
Fr. Konkol was assigned to St. Mary of the Angels Friary in 2007. Ministry in the Diocese of Green Bay began as associate pastor at St. Mary Parish, Maplewood. In January of 2008, he became administrator in Maplewood as well as St. Peter and St. Hubert Parish, Rosiere/Lincoln. In July of 2010, Fr. Konkol became the pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Sturgeon Bay, and Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Institute. In the summer of 2013, the parish communities planted a tree in Fr. Konkol’s honor in the courtyard outside St. Joseph Church.
Fr. Konkol built relationships with people of all ages at the parishes he served, but he especially welcomed the opportunity to challenge young people to live their faith. He was known as a good storyteller. Many of his stories stemmed from his travels to other countries.
“As a man, I find myself living, walking and praying with all people,” said Fr. Konkol reflecting on his ministry, “open to the communicative God dwelling within myself and in each person and situation; as the promised kingdom continues to unfold around me and other pilgrim companions.”
Fr. Konkol is survived by four brothers: Richard (Aimee), Mountain; Michael, Stevens Point; Larry (Karen), Plover; and Bruce (Sheila), Idaho; three sisters: Karen (Robert) Purtell, Brown Deer; Debra Knutson and Mary Kay Jenquine, both of Idaho; nieces, nephews, his brother friars, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Sylvester and Ramona (Herman) Konkol, and a brother, Mark.
The funeral Mass was celebrated on Nov. 17 at Assumption BVM Church, Pulaski. Franciscan Fr. John Puodziunas, minister provincial, presided. Burial followed in St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish Cemetery in Fancher, Wis.