Kirby, Rev Thomas Aloysius
REV. THOMAS ALOYSIUS KIRBY
January 10, 1956
- Date of Birth: 2 November 1928
- Place of Birth in Ireland: Limerick City
- County: Limerick
- Education: All Hallows College, Dublin
- Date of Ordination: 21 June 1953
- Place of Ordination: All Hallows Seminary Chapel, Dublin
- Associate Pastor – St Patrick’s Parish – 10/24/1953 to 2/11/1955
- Assistant Chaplin – St Francis Hospital – 2/12/1955
Father Thomas Kirby was introduced to the priestly way of life early in his life as three of his uncles were priests. By the time of Father’s ordination, one of his uncles, Monsignor Edward Kirby of Cleveland, Ohio was deceased. However, two other uncles, Rev. Patrick J. Kirby of Toronto, Canada and Rev. Vincent Kirby of Chicago were in active ministry and anxiously awaiting a visit from young Father Kirby when he was on his way to Kansas. His brother, Edward, also became a priest and was ordained for a diocese in Florida.
Fr Kirby wasted no time in endearing himself to the people of St Patrick Parish. According to his family, Fr Kirby had “a winsome manner,” he sang beautifully and “was marvelous at elocution.” Even his appearance was pleasing for as one of his fellow Irish priests serving in Wichita noted, Fr Kirby also possessed a head of thick, dark hair!
This pleasant demeanor helped Fr Kirby attract souls to the Catholic faith. One young parish family in particular benefitted from the grace of this Irish priest’s appealing spirit. According to their daughter, Christine Ostroski, Elmo and Phyllis Santner had been married in the Catholic Church and were raising their two children as Catholics. Elmo, who had no religious affiliation, began meeting one-on-one with Fr Kirby and in less than a year, baptized Elmo and gave him his First Holy Communion.
Four months later, in January of 1955, Fr Kirby became ill and was operated on for an abdominal malignancy. Following a brief recovery Fr Kirby was reassigned as assistant chaplain at St Francis Hospital in Wichita. According to The Catholic Advance, January 12, 1956 issue, it was explained that in April 1955, Fr Kirby returned to Ireland for rest and an extended visit with his family. Even with frequent transfusions and other medical treatments he continued to grow worse from his ailment and died in Ireland on 10 January 1956.
Prior to his death, Fr Kirby wrote a letter to Phyllis Santner saying: “It’s good to be back in dear old Ireland again. It’s like making a retreat to come back where the faith is really strong.” His loving family was pleased to have Fr Kirby home with them again. His maternal aunt, Sr Mary Aloysius, a Sister of Mercy in Tipperary, shared that her nephew never complained about how sick he really was and that he was hopeful of returning to St Patrick’s Parish.
“A Solemn Mass of Requiem was offered for Fr Kirby in the chapel of St Francis Hospital on January 12. With 30 priests in attendance, Msgr William Schaefers, chaplain was celebrant, Fr Hugh O’Keeffe, assistant chaplain was deacon, and Fr James Quinn was subdeacon. A choir of student nurses sang at the Mass. All the sisters, nurses and a large number of the hospital personnel attended the Requiem.”
- Date of Death: 10 January 1956
- Place of Death: City Hospital – Limerick, Ireland
- Age of Death: 27
- Cause of Death: Abdominal Cancer
- Funeral Celebrant: Memorial Mass celebrated at St Patrick’s Parish – Fr Thomas Green celebrant and Fr Patrick Leahy, a close friend of Fr Kirby, as homilist.
- Burial: Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery, Limerick, Ireland