Sister Kathleen Kirk, 86, Carmelite nun, organist

January 20, 2003

Sister Kathleen Kirk, a Carmelite nun and organist who learned Greek and Spanish so she could read religious texts in their original language, died Tuesday of heart failure at the order's monastery in Towson. She was 86.

Born Margaret Mary Kirk in Columbus, Ohio, she later moved with her family to Washington, D.C., where she graduated from St. Anthony's High School. In 1933, she entered the Carmelite Sisters of Baltimore and took the religious name Sister Kathleen.

As a young nun, she studied Greek to be able to read original editions of the Bible and Spanish to read the works of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as they were written.

Sister Kathleen was well-known as a talented organist to those who came to the Carmelite monastery for Sunday Eucharist. She also accompanied the community in its daily singing of the Psalms and its celebration of greater feasts and special occasions.

"Her music was extremely important to her, and her playing greatly enhanced the liturgy," said Sister Patricia Scanlan.

Known for her outgoing nature, she welcomed visitors to the monastery and was often seen playing with children while their parents were engaged in more serious conversation, said Sister Patricia.

"She could enter into their imaginary worlds or share with them her own childlike wide-eyed wonder at a new toy or book," she said.

Sister Constance FitzGerald said, "She was a very outgoing, friendly and spontaneous person who made people feel very welcome into her own life and into the life of the community."

A funeral Mass was celebrated Saturday.

She is survived by three sisters, Gertrude Meehan of Silver Spring, Lucille Woods of Atlanta and Dorothy Noel of Emmitsburg; and a brother, the Rev. Daniel Kirk of Washington, D.C.

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