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Fr. Arthur Tonne:
a biography


Fr. Arthur Tonne penned numerous works, mostly comprising of homiletic aides for pastors.


His writings are noteworthy for an engaging style of story-telling to relate a spiritual point. Fr. Tonne was especially renowned for his humor and published several volumes of Jokes Priests Can Tell.

Born in 1904, he was ordained in 1932 as a priest for the Franciscan Order, fulfilling for several years the role of retreat master.


In 1951, he was incardinated into the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, where among many other endeavors he served as the pastor at St. John Nepomucene Church in Pilsen, Kansas for nearly 38 years.


The tiny town of Pilsen was also the home of the heroic Army military chaplain of the Korean War, Fr. Emil Kapaun, who likewise served briefly as its pastor. In 1951, Fr. Kapaun died in a North Korean prison camp and it was Fr. Tonne who wrote the first biographical account about him. The book was entitled The Story of Chaplain Kapaun: Patriot Priest of the Korean Conflict—first published in 1954, it has recently been reprinted by the Didde Printing Company.

In 1960, Fr. Tonne was elevated to the rank of monsignor, though despite this ecclesiastical honor, he preferred to be simply called “Father”.

After nearly 60 years of devoted priestly ministry, Msgr. Tonne retired in 1991 to a care-giving home in Carbondale, Colorado. On May 20, 2003 he died at the age of 98 and was buried in the parish cemetery at Pilsen. Requiescat in pace.

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