Father Luke Marion Kot, 102, monk of the Cistercian (Trappist) Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia died peacefully in the monastery infirmary in the company of his brothers on Thursday evening January 9, 2014. The burial service took place on Monday January 13, 2014 at 9:00AM in the monastery church. Fr. Luke was the last surviving member of the 20 founding monks who came to Conyers, Georgia in 1944 to build a Trappist monastery. He was blessed with the gift of 76 years in religious life, 66 years as a priest, when the Lord called him. Father Luke was the oldest monk of the worldwide Cistercian Order (OCSO).
Father Luke was born on August 3, 1911 in Great Falls, Montana. When he was two years old the family moved to Niagara Falls, New York where he spent his childhood. His baptismal name was Joseph Chester Kocik. [Fr. Luke used the diminutive Kot as a last name.] His parents were Joseph and Maryanna Kocik. Both parents were immigrants from Poland. He was baptized at St. Ann Cathedral in Great Falls, Montana. Fr. Luke was preceded in death by three sisters: Stella (Rayman) Beebe, Julia (David) Cahill, and Helen Rose (George) Truesdale. He is survived by 6 nephews and 6 nieces.
Father Luke says from his earliest years he knew he would be a religious one day, but it wasn’t until he was 14 that it became clear to him. “I had no background with any relatives or friends, or anyone that would help me or encourage me,” says Father. “But I believed in prayer. Prayer, waiting.”
In 1937, he saw a two-page spread in the Buffalo newspaper about a Trappist monastery, Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. The photos of the monks got his attention. Shortly after, he saw another article in a magazine, “An Introduction to a Trappist Life.” Admittedly, Father says he had never heard of a Trappist before, but after reading the article he had a conviction that a Trappist was what God was calling him to be.
On October 28 of the following year, Father Luke entered Gethsemani Abbey which, at the time, had 144 monks. He professed solemn monastic vows in February 1944.
On St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, 1944—just a month after his solemn profession in February 1944—Father Luke was selected as one of 20 monks to begin the new foundation in rural Conyers, Georgia. The monks left Gethsemani on March 21 and arrived at the former Honeycreek Plantation the next day, the Feast of Saint Benedict. The land was cotton fields then, but a lone barn where they lived and prayed for the first 9 months served as the beginning of Our Lady of Holy Spirit Monastery. Father Luke was ordained on November 30, 1948.
Fr. Luke served the monastery for many years as secretary. He also served his brothers as tailor for 50 years. The last 2 years of his life, until he became ill, he served at the new welcome center welcoming visitors while making rosaries that were sold at the gift store.
A Monk For The Ages
In 2011, Michael Alexander, staff photographer for The Georgia Bulletin, had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Fr. Kot. You can read his reflection here:
Requiem for a Trappist Monk
January 9, 2014 By Carl McColman
Last surviving member of original 21 Conyers monks
By Michelle E. Shaw
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Last of monastery's founding monks dies
Rockdale Citizen – Jan 10, 2014
Condolences and donations may be sent in Father Luke’s memory to:
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212, SW, Conyers, GA 30094-4044
You can also donate securely online. Click Here to donate.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.