Father Francis Kamp, land development pioneer and missionary priest, dies at age 91

Father Francis Kamp, 1920-2011

Kamp,_Fr_Frank_for_webFather Francis J. Kamp SVD, founder of the Techny Land Development which revolutionized the way that Catholic religious orders use their landholdings, died on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the age of 91.

As chairman of the Techny Land Committee from 1984 to 2005, Father Kamp repurposed more than 600 acres of the Society of the Divine Word’s land, which is located 20 miles north of Chicago. When the international congregation of Catholic priests and brothers no longer needed the land for farming, the Techny Land Committee transformed it into the commercial and residential leased property that it is today.

"Frank established a new model for the way that religious orders use their land for the good of the Catholic Church and humanity as a whole," said Brother Mathew Zemel SVD, current president of the Techny Land Corporation and a member of the Techny Land Committee since 1987.

"Instead of selling the land, he encouraged the Society to develop it for long-term leasing. The income generated by the leased land now supports the missions in the United States and around the world," he said. "His leadership and vision will benefit generations to come."

Born in LaCrosse, Wis., in 1920, Francis Kamp was the eighth of John and Martha (nee Machunze) Kampschroer’s nine children. He began his studies with the Divine Word Missionaries in 1934, professed vows in 1942 and was ordained to the priesthood at Techny in 1947.

In 1949, he officially shortened his last name to Kamp. Five decades later, the Village of Northbrook honored his work by bestowing his name on a street that runs perpendicular to Waukegan Road.

After ordination, Father Kamp’s first assignment took him to East Troy, Wis., where he taught at the high school seminary and edited Little Missionary magazine. In 1952, he returned to Techny, where he lived for the rest of his life.

During his career, Father Kamp also served as national publication director in North America, as well as director and treasurer of the Mission Office, the Society of the Divine Word’s arm that raises funds in the United States to help missionaries outside of North America. Father Kamp was director until 1982 and treasurer until 1991.

"Frank lived by advice that his mother gave to him as a boy—always put people first in your life," Brother Mat said.

Father Kamp remained active until just a few days before he died. For decades, he served as chaplain of the Chicago Catholic University Club and assisted pastors in Chicago Archdiocesan parishes, including St. Stephen King of Hungary.

For the past six years, he volunteered as a chaplain at Midwest Palliative and Hospice Care Center and was recently one of a few individuals asked to provide a reflection for the groundbreaking ceremony of the center’s new inpatient care unit.

Father Kamp is survived by one brother, John Kampschroer of Florida, and many nieces and nephews. Visitation is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center. A wake service, led by Father James Braband SVD, will follow at 7 p.m.

Father Kamp’s funeral Mass will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Burial at St. Mary Cemetery at Techny and a brunch at Techny Towers will follow. Father Thomas Ascheman, SVD, provincial superior, will preside. Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center is located at 2001 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook), Ill.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father Francis Kamp can be made for the care of retired missionaries and may be sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.

To read more about Father Kamp's legacy and the Techny land, click here.

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