By Andrew Ehrkamp
News Editor

Rev. Gerald Keindel CSsR, better known as “Father Tex,” spent decades amassing loyal parish congregations throughout Western Canada, but never forgot where he got his start - on the family farm.

“He was a very dedicated priest. He was a solid, stable guy,” said Rev. Mark Miller, the provincial of Keindel’s religious order, the Redemptorists. “He was a steadfast presence, but he was a farm boy at heart. He would go back to his brother’s farm in Saskatchewan and help with the harvest.”

Father Keindel died on Aug. 14 at age 82 at Villa Marguerite in Edmonton. He spent most of his career ministering in parishes throughout Western Canada, including St. Gerard's in Yorkton and St. Mary's in Beaverlodge, where he oversaw the building of new churches.

Born in Tessier, a village about 60 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon, Keindel was ordained on June 17, 1962, after studies at Holy Redeemer College seminary in Windsor, Ont., where the seminarians gave the nickname that would stick with him.

“He was from the West. He grew up on a farm, liked to fix things, so they started calling him that and he liked it a lot,” Miller said. “I called him ‘Gerald’ in public, and he corrected me. He said ‘It’s Tex!’.”

Father Tex spent a year teaching at Holy Redeemer College, a Redemptorist minor seminary in Edmonton, “but that was not his gift,” said Miller, who was a student in his class in the early 1960s.

Instead, Father Tex thrived as a parish priest – ironically a very public vocation for someone who was “basically a shy person … friendly but shy,” Miller said.

“It’s not typical, but very common,” Miller added. “Young guys start off with a vision, and sometimes it’s less than their ideal, but then other things happen instead that are wonderful.”

The priesthood took Father Tex throughout Western Canada.

Miller said “he was always present to the people in his parish and very attentive to them” – but he was always mindful of his roots. He never lost his connection to Saskatchewan.

“He was a big fan of the green and white” Miller said, referring to the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team. “He followed them very closely on TV.”

Along the way, Father Tex obtained degrees in theology, education and pastoral counselling. He also took up hobbies that included computers and, later in life, knitting. Father Tex would make scarves and toques, then bring them to the Marian Centre for distribution to people living on Edmonton streets.

In 2002 he moved to Villa Marguerite, where he was the rector for the Redemptorists, an order that has seen its numbers dwindle in recent years to just 37 priests in the English-speaking provinces.

Still, the order was a huge part of Father Tex’s life. That became even clearer to Rev. Dino Benedet, a fellow Redemptorist, as he was making funeral arrangements this week with Father Tex’s relatives.

“They said he was totally dedicated to the Redemptorist order from the time he was a kid. He even put it before his own family,” Benedet said. “I found that extraordinary, but that’s him.

“He was dedicated to God and the order first. He did that all his life.”

A prayer vigil will be held for Father Tex on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m., in the chapel at Villa Marguerite, 9810 - 165 St., in Edmonton. The funeral Mass will take place on Aug. 18 at 10:30 a.m., followed by interment at Holy Cross cemetery.