About the Curator | Father Richard Kunst

Image of Father Richard Kunst with books in the background

As a high school senior, I had an assignment in my Government class to write to a politician. I chose President Jimmy Carter. He sent me an autographed photo of himself and his wife and that started my interest in autographs. I began researching celebrity addresses in all fields–sports, music, politics, movies, and more–and wrote letters to these various stars. After spending hundreds of dollars in postage, I amassed a fairly large collection.

My interest then turned toward historical autographs, particularly of past presidents. I started getting subscriptions to various autograph dealers and, though I was a student, I was able to buy a nice autograph from time to time. At one point, I had autographs of 16 presidents, dating back to President Martin Van Buren.

In 1995, I received an autograph dealer catalog that offered three different papal autographs for auction. It was the first time I had ever seen a signature of a Pope made available–in a way I was shocked that they even existed. I had to get a loan from my sister, but in the end I won two of the three papal items–autographs of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, both as cardinals.

This is what started my bug for papal and religious autographs. Not long after, I was able to add signatures of Pius VII and Pius IX. Eventually I lost all interest in modern day celebrities, as well as presidential autographs. I sold nearly the entire collection. With that money, I was able to purchase a number of other fine autographs with religious themes.

After being ordained to the priesthood, I finally had a steady income to put towards the collection. At the same time, the World Wide Web was a phenomenal source of leads for rare items. I made contact with several manuscript dealers throughout Europe and was able to access great items at very good prices.

I continue my search for old, rare, and unique papal items, from documents to papal clothing. The collection is always growing.

I am often asked what I intend to do with this collection. It has always been and remains my intent to donate it to the Church where it may be enjoyed forever. At the present time I am seeking a location where it may be displayed rather than kept in archival conditions. However, because of the rarity and age of the artifacts, this would demand museum quality conditions where storage of the artifacts could be closely monitored. An ideal situation would be a Catholic college or university interested in showing this very valuable and historical collection.

-Father Richard Kunst

We support parents as the primary educators of their children and collaborate with them to form young people who are equipped to live moral, upright, and successful lives. This partnership supports the school’s educational efforts for each student through the family’s involvement, serving as role models and active participants in our school. We are proud of our highly engaged and effective teachers, the family involvement and the sense of community at Stella Maris Academy- all factors important for student success.

  • Historically, our students perform in the top 85th percentile and higher of national norms and 1.5 to 2.0 grade equivalents above their current grade placement.

  • A variety of instructional practices allow teachers to accommodate multiple learning styles, needs and levels. These include differentiated instruction, performance-based learning, service learning, cooperative learning, interdisciplinary instruction and accelerated learning.

  • Our written curricular and instructional practices are guided by current research and best professional practices.

Star of the North Maternity Home supports homeless pregnant women with love, shelter and resources to independence in Northern Minnesota.  

With locations in the Twin Ports and the Iron Range, we help to fill the dire need for housing.  Our hope is to go beyond housing to transform women’s lives with education, holistic medical care and comprehensive services by partnering with other local agencies. 

Our residences house women while pregnant and after they have their child for up to 18 months. Helping her to transform into a mom, finish her education, find a job or find transitional housing.  Each woman’s needs are unique and different.  We are here to support them in their time of need and help them to find the resources that will guide them to self-sufficiency and stability.