Fr. Peter Kassens (1841-1916)

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Father Peter Kassens was touted in his obituary as one of the greatest circuit riders and educators in the state of Kansas; all this for a man born in Germany who came to Atchison from St. Louis in 1863 as a shoemaker.  He began a connection to the Abbey community that lasted 52 years.  He was one of the early monks in the community that was founded in 1857.  He served many years as a circuit rider and preacher of missions.  Worn out by the intense all-weather missionary journeys, in later years he returned to the College and was director for a time and later head of the commercial department.  He was the founder of Sacred Heart Parish and the builder of what was known as St. Louis College.  A quote from his obituary puts it this way, “It is said that there is not a boy who went to St. Benedict’s when Father Peter was a teacher that did not love him… His memory will be cherished by the generation that grew up under him and especially by that band of brothers whom during the lapse of a half a century he lived to see grow up around him.”

Father Peter died at the abbey and “his death was the result of heart trouble and the gradual wearing away of his system under the continual strain of a long and laborious life.”