Monks aren't given to celebrating birthdays much, but we made a very special exception this weekend to celebrate and honor Father Luke Kot's 100th birthday 1911 - 2011. He has been a monk for 73 years and ordained a priest for 63 years. There were170 invited guests (including 40 monks,) relatives and friends who came from near and far to honor this holy centenarian. Father Luke gave about 7 interviews over the past week to Atlanta area newspapers that saw this as a human interest story.
The birthday celebration began with a prayer service built around the midday prayer in church followed by a luncheon in the monastery dining room. During the prayer service Abbot Francis Michael had Fr. Luke stand beside him at the podium and held a copy of a parchment with the Apostolic Blessing that had just arrived from the Vatican - thanks to Dom Timothy Kelly our Procurator General in Rome who made this possible. Father Francis read the blessing aloud to the gathering after which there was a standing ovation. The Abbot General in Rome also sent a congratulatory letter which we printed in the special booklet that was put together for the event. The booklet became a memento that many took away with Fr Luke's autograph.
The luncheon was a wonderful event with great tasting Polish cuisine. There was much storytelling and singing with Father Luke's relatives leading us in song at the microphone. Father Luke really showed his love and appreciation for having so many dear friends in one place with him. His face was radiant with joy and laughter as he greeted all who came to him.
Dom Bernard Johnson our former abbot flew in from Vina, California, and shared with the gathering some pleasant memories of Fr. Luke's early years, as did other monks and family members. It was a joyous occasion enjoyed by all. Father Luke really looked forward to this event as he helped put together the invitee list of relatives and friends very dear to him and who in turn showed great love for him at the gathering. He was the life of the party as he took the microphone to share his words of wisdom and lead us in song. Father Luke is in great spirits and looks like he will be around for a few more birthdays.