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Last of monastery's founding monks dies

Father Luke Marion Kot, the last surviving member of the 20 monks who came to Rockdale County in 1944 to build the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, died Thursday evening in the monastery infirmary. Shown here in a 2011 photo, Kot is holding the original cross he and the 19 other monks carried with them on their

Father Luke Marion Kot, the last surviving member of the 20 monks who came to Rockdale County in 1944 to build the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, died Thursday evening in the monastery infirmary. Shown here in a 2011 photo, Kot is holding the original cross he and the 19 other monks carried with them on their

CONYERS — Father Luke Marion Kot, the last surviving member of the 20 founding monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, died Thursday evening in the monastery infirmary. He was 102.

Kot, who took his monastic vows in Kentucky in 1944, joined with other monks that same year to build the Trappist monastery in Rockdale County. He spent 76 years of his life in religious service, 66 years as a priest. He was the oldest monk of the worldwide Cistercian Order (OCSO).

The burial service at the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial will be at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 13, in the monastery church at 2625 Ga. Highway 212, SW, Conyers.

Kot’s religious path was in part guided by his parents, devoted Catholics who emigrated to the United States from Poland as a young married couple.

His parents settled in Niagara Falls but then traveled west to look for work. Kot, one of four children, was born in Montana on Aug. 3, 1911. When he was 2, the family returned to Niagara Falls where he spent his childhood.

In an interview with the Citizen on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Kot recalled that he first knew he would pursue a religious life at the age of 14.

“My life is wrapped up with faith,” he said at the time. “It’s a life I would never change. I can’t believe that God has been so patient with me.”

Kot worked as a tailor for the monastery for 54 years, making habits, jumpsuits and the occasional curtains. He also devoted time to monks in the infirmary, some of whom came with him on the journey from Kentucky to Conyers. In his final years he served at the monastery welcome center greeting visitors and making rosaries that were sold in the gift shop.

In his 2011 interview with the Citizen, Kot said the most fulfilling part of being a monk was embracing God’s gift of faith. He said that religion is “a living thing” and, that if people read and believe Scripture, then God will give them the grace they need for faith.

“If you pray, He won’t refuse you,” Kot said. “God is love. God is (also) truth and I can’t resist the truth.”

Condolences and donations may be sent in Kot’s memory to: The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212, SW, Conyers, GA 30094-4044. Donations may also be made online at www.trappist.net.