Father Kenneth Geyer, Benedictine monk, artist and musician, dies Feb. 8
BELMONT — A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 11, 2012, for Benedictine Father Kenneth Geyer, who died on Feb. 8, 2012, at Belmont Abbey Monastery in Belmont. Interment followed at the abbey cemetery.
Father Geyer had been a professed monk at the Benedictine abbey for nearly 70 years, and for 50 years he served as the organist at Our Lady Mary, Help of Christians Basilica.
A native of Lancaster, N.Y., he was born on April 1, 1927, the son of the late Joseph A. and Kathryn Nuwer Geyer. He earned his A.A. degree from Belmont Abbey Junior College, his B.A. from St. Benedict’s College, and his M.A. in Musicology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1945, at the age of 18, he vowed to live by The Rule of Saint Benedict, the guide for the daily life, temporal and spiritual, of the Benedictine monastic community.
In his rule, St. Benedict instructs the monks to “run on the path of God’s commandments…Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death.”
He was professed a monk on July 11, 1946, and ordained a priest on June 13, 1953. Except for two years when he was assigned to teach at Benedictine High School in Richmond, Va., Father Geyer spent the remainder of his life in the monastery of Belmont Abbey – a total of 67 years.
At the funeral Mass Feb. 11, Abbot Placid Solari noted that Father Geyer “has, with the grace of God accomplished what he vowed to do.” Until death, he lived a life of fidelity to the monastery.
He taught generations of Belmont Abbey College students the history of music and art, according to the monastery’s website, and he coordinated all fine arts programs on the campus. “In the monastic community and beyond, Father Kenneth is appreciated for his original works of art – both his paintings and his music – and his knowledge of current literature,” it stated.
In addition to teaching, he led numerous recitals on campus and taught French, as well as served as prior of the monastery and master-of-novices. He was chairman and founder of the Department of Music and Fine Arts at Belmont Abbey College, directed plays in the Abbey Theater, and was the organist and choir director at Belmont Abbey for 50 years. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Belmont Abbey College.
As he was called to live a life in a monastery affiliated with academic institutions, it seems only appropriate that he was a teacher for 44 years. Teaching art, music and French, Father Geyer had a positive impact on many students of Belmont Abbey College.
His passion for teaching and serving as chapter counselor of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon was accompanied by a love of music and candy. His last days on this earth, Abbot Placid said, “were made especially joyful by the visit of four men he had mentored as students 45 years ago.” Their visit made his last days joyful ones. And, Abbot Placid pointed out, “their visit included a substantial offering of candy.”
Benedictine Brother Edward Mancuso remembered Father Geyer as “one of my best friends. He will be greatly missed and greatly remembered.”
A senior monk in years at the monastery, Benedictine Father Matthew McSorley recalled Father Geyer’s interest in both theater and putt-putt golf – he played frequently at a putt-putt course in Gastonia and also inside the long corridors of the monastery.
“He was a loner and liked to keep to himself,” Father McSorley says. “He took everything seriously – except movies.” His favorite movie was the 1953 comedy “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday,” but he also took a special liking to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a 1986 comedy about a high school student who skips one day of school.
Though Father Geyer relied on using a wheelchair during the final years of his life, he regularly ventured out on his own (against the advice of other people) to enjoy Belmont Abbey’s beautiful grounds. The appearance of peacefulness he gave during these trips made it seem that he was taking the advice of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Father Geyer was preceded in death by his brothers, Robert Geyer and Benedictine Father Raymond Geyer, and his sister, Sister Marie Canice Geyer.
He is survived by the monks of Belmont Abbey; by his sister-in-law, Bernice Geyer of Lancaster, N.Y.; and by his nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Kenneth Geyer Scholarship at Belmont Abbey College.
McLean Funeral Directors of Belmont was in charge of the arrangements.
—Christopher Lux, correspondent
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