Born: Boulder, Colorado, July 29, 1922
Professed: June 1, 2944 | Ordained: May 22, 1948

Monday, 07 October 2013 11:10

Father Louis Kirby • 1922-2013

Written by  Father Meinrad Miller
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Father Louis (Melvin) Kirby, O.S.B., a monk of St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kan., died on October 5, 2013, at the Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo., after a short illness.  Fortified by the sacraments and having received the Apostolic Pardon, Father Louis was surrounded by monks during his brief illness. 

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.”

Father Louis was preceded in death by his parents.  He is survived by the monks of the Abbey and cousins.  Vespers for the Dead, followed by visitation, will be prayed on Monday, October 7, 2013, at 7 p.m. in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church.  The Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Louis will be celebrated in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church on Tuesday, October 8, at 10:30 a.m., with interment following in the Abbey cemetery.

Memorials in honor of Fr. Louis may be sent to St. Benedict’s Abbey, 1020 N. Second St., Atchison, KS 66002.

We ask each community member to offer Mass once according to the manner of his participation in the priesthood of Christ.  We commend our brother, Father Louis, to your prayers.

+Abbot James R. Albers, O.S.B., and the Monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey

Read 3415 times Last modified on Monday, 07 October 2013 17:56

St. Benedict's Abbey

St. Benedict's Abbey
(913) 367-7853
1020 N. Second St.
Atchison, Kansas 66002


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