Sister Timothy Kirby, a presence at the College of St. Scholastica for more than 70 years and well-known in the broader Duluth community, died Wednesday at the college's monastery.
Kirby, 92, was born in Hurley, Wis., in 1918 and graduated from St. Scholastica in 1939 with a music degree, entering the monastery in 1940. In her time there she taught, served as dean of students, worked in campus ministry and most recently in alumni relations. She served on numerous boards and councils in the community and volunteered in prison ministry.
"She had such huge concern and empathy for people who are poor, on the margin or struggling to make meaning out of life," said Sister Lois Eckes, prioress of the St. Scholastica Monastery. "She has been a beautiful presence."
Kirby volunteered at the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth for more than 20 years to tend to the spiritual needs of inmates. She also was active in Pax Christi, the Catholic peace organization, and taught at Marshall School for several years. Kirby was a confidante and spiritual mentor to generations of St. Scholastica alumni, said Bob Ashenmacher, spokesman for the college.
"She had hundreds, if not thousands, of friends," he said. "That's not an exaggeration."
More than a thousand alumni would participate each year in a Lenten prayer card project, in which she invited alumni to send in cards if they wanted the sisters to pray for them during the season.
"She was a very talented and gently charismatic person," Ashenmacher said, "with really an irrepressible sort of wit."
Kirby was one of the monastery's organists, who wrote hymns and responses for liturgical celebrations. She directed musical productions and loved to recite poetry and stories.
"She was a wonderful storyteller," Eckes said. "That Irish spirit would come through in her Irish brogue."
Kirby, who was an advocate for peace and earned several community service and volunteer awards in her lifetime, touched countless lives through her work, Eckes said.
"She's a short-statured woman with a giant soul," she said.
A wake will be held for Kirby at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel in the St. Scholastica Monastery. The Mass of Christian Burial is at 11 a.m. Jan. 12 in the same church.
Caption: Sister Timothy Kirby stands near the entrance of the Federal Prison Camp on Stebner Road in Hermantown. Kirby volunteered at the prison for more than 20 years, leading a Bible study and a worship service every week. Kirby died Wednesday at age 92. (2006 file / News Tribune)
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