Fr. Louis Kirby, a monk of St. Benedict’s Abbey died Saturday, October 5, 2013 at Heartland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph, Missouri, after a short illness. Fortified by the sacraments and having received the Apostolic Pardon, Father Louis was surrounded by monks during his brief illness.
Mass of Christian burial will be Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 10:30 A.M. in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church. Interment will follow in the monastic Cemetery. Vespers of the Dead will be Monday, October 7th at 7:00 P.M. in the Abbey Church. The Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home is in charge of the final arrangements. Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Benedict’s Abbey.
Father Louis was the senior monk of the Abbey. He was born on July 29, 1922, in Boulder, Colo., the son of Joseph and Esther (Rummelhart) Kirby. He attended Boulder High School, graduating in 1939, and then enrolled at the University of Colorado from 1940-1942, before enrolling at Holy Cross College in Cañon City, Colo. After his sophomore year of college in 1942 he embraced God’s call to become a Benedictine novice at Holy Cross Abbey, Cañon City, Colo., professing his first vows in June of 1944. Father Louis completed his Bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College in 1945. He also studied other subjects in the summer months: in 1946 physics at Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), and in the summer of 1947 library science at Columbia University.
Father Louis was ordained to the priesthood on May 22, 1948, by Bishop Joseph Willging and would spend the rest of his life as a humble monk and priest, serving in parishes and schools in Colorado and Mexico. In 1954 he received a Masters degree in history from the University of Notre Dame. He would also serve for one year in 1986 as the Novice Master of Holy Cross Abbey. For 7 years (1987-1994) he was the chaplain of the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo.
With the sad news of the close of Holy Cross Abbey, Father Louis was the first of the monks from that house to transfer his vows to St. Benedict’s Abbey. He arrived here in 2004 and officially transferred his vows in 2005. Since that time he has been faithful to the monastic life of prayer and community as well as helping where needed, including: serving for a time as the weekend priest for St. Patrick’s Parish, south of Atchison, where he was also the Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Council; offering Mass and the sacraments to the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison; and serving as a part time chaplain for the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, KS.
A special ministry of Father Louis was to serve as the director for over 100 Benedictine oblates in various prisons throughout the United States. As Matthew 25:35-36 reminds us: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
He is survived by the monks of the Abbey and cousins.
Father Louis was preceded in death by his parents.