Monsignor Thomas D. Kirk, age 78 of Memphis, died on Dec. 22 in his hometown of Knoxville. Monsignor Kirk was a parish priest of the Diocese of Memphis for 52 years. He was a graduate of Knoxville Catholic High School, class of 1961, before completing seminary at St. Bernard College in Cullman, Ala., and St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.
He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Nashville in 1969. After his ordination, Father Kirk was sent to St. Theresa The Little Flower Church in Memphis during the civil rights movement to help bring calm and establish a place of peace to the city. He also served at St. Joseph, Sacred Heart, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. Mary’s in Savannah, Tenn., and St. Mary’s in Jackson.
Monsignor Kirk also served as bishop liaison of ecumenical relations and most recently as chaplain of Memphis Catholic High School. His dedication to the people was unmatched, and he served the community in various capacities, helping establish schools and programs throughout the city. He also traveled extensively, and his impact was felt abroad as well.
He leaves a legacy of love and light and will be remembered for his dedicated faith to the Lord and the parishes and people he served.
Monsignor Kirk was preceded in death by his parents, Stephen L. and Anna Mae Billington Kirk; sister, Mary Kirk Bassett Montgomery, and nephew, Ambrose Bassett. He is survived and will be deeply missed by his brothers, Stephen L. Kirk. Jr. (Gerry), Joseph Billington Kirk (Helen), Father John L. Kirk, Philip Anthony Kirk (Suzanne); sisters, Anne Gallegos (Eloy), Joan Lyttle (Russ); 30 nieces and nephews; and other extended family and friends.
A funeral Mass was held on Dec. 28 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father John Kirk served as celebrant, with Bishop Richard F. Stika and Father Martin Gladysz serving as concelebrants. A funeral Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis, interment at Calvary Cemetery in Memphis, and a memorial Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Jackson, Tenn., were planned for January.