RIP Kevin Seasoltz – UPDATED 4-28

R. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB, monk of Saint John’s Abbey, passed away this morning at 5:30 am.

Fr. Kevin was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1930, professed a monk November 13, 1960 and ordained a priest on June 3, 1956. Before coming to Collegeville, he was on the faculty of the Catholic University in Washington for twenty-five years. He has been the editor of the liturgical journal Worship for twenty-six years. The journal was awarded the Michael Mathis award by the University of Notre Dame. In 2005 he was the recipient of the Berakah Award from the North American Academy of Liturgy, and in 2009 he received the Frederick McManus Award from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. His most recent books include A Sense of the Sacred: Theological Foundations of Christian Architecture and Art, which won first place for liturgy in the Catholic Press Associations Awards for 2006,God’s Gift Giving: In Christ and through the Spirit (2007), and A Virtuous Church: Catholic Theology, Eithics, and Liturgy for the 21st Century.

May he rest in peace.

*               *               *               *               *

In the forthoming May issue of Worship, that last edited by Fr. Kevin, Fr. Paul Philibert OP has a review of Fr. Kevin’s recently released book A Virtuous Church: Catholic Theology, Eithics, and Liturgy for the 21st Century. Philibert begins:

In “A Virtuous Church,” Kevin Seasoltz analyzes the forces that have enabled the restorationist reaction to Vatican II. Drawing on the social sciences, biblical studies, the Catholic tradition of moral theology, and contemporary ecclesiology and liturgiology, he underlines how poorly founded and inept is the present option of the Church’s leadership for authoritarianism, centralization, and clericalism. With the Roman Catholic Church more centralized than ever before in its history, bishops have become vicars of the pope rather than vicars of the apostles, women feel intensely marginilized, and the laity have not been able to achieve fully the role proposed for them by the Second Vatican Council.

The review concludes:

The author writes that many people today “wonder whether the Lord Jesus, as master of the Church, has gone on a very long journey and left the Church as an orphan in [the] charge of rascals” (195). The deepest cultural challenges and opportunities for the Kingdom of God have been systematically ignored in order to butress the Roman option for a classicist theology and for juridical approaches to ministry that mask the universal call to holiness and the universal responsibility for the Church’s apostolic life. The virtue of this book is that the author explains calmly and clearly what that means and how it happened. As a carefully documented work of theological synthesis, it will be not only enriching but also important for theologians and pastors, catechists and ecclesial ministers. We are in debt to the author for a potent prod to assess what we see happening in the Church and to address it, each of us within the sphere of our capacities.


  1. He was a holy monk, a gifted professor, and a model for all! May all his favorite saints greet him this day. Fr. Kevin, we will miss you! Pray for us!

  2. The prisoners and outsiders in ecumenical worship yesterday evening at Riverbend Maximim Security Institute, West Nashville (several of whom study and follow, as best they can, the Rule of St Benedict) joined me in praying for Kevin’s peaceful passage. Saints of God, come to his aid. Come to meet him, angels of the Lord. Receive his soul and return him to God most high.

  3. He was also a gifted liturgist, a gracious ecumenist, and a dear friend who years ago urged me (rightly) not to forget the resurrection!

    From “Evangelical Lutheran Worship”: Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Kevin. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.

  4. Now, as Kevin enjoys peace, may he intercede for us as we work to live and spread the Gospel message to love God and to love our neighbor. May Kevin’s written pages of wisdom in his many books and the knowledge he imparted in his years of teaching be a source of hope and encouragement for all of us. “Life is changed, not ended…” Stay in touch, Kevin, pray for us and keep us moving forward!

  5. I join with the monks of St John’s and with his friends across the US and the world in remembering Kevin with gratitude and in prayer that the angels welcome him in God’s paradise. Where better to remember him than in eucharistic communion where all are one

    David Power

  6. I had the privilege of taking a course with Kevin in 1979 focused on the Word in worship and enjoyed it thoroughly. I will always remember him as someone deeply committed to the mystery of God’s love and always looking for ways to invite others into the richness of that mystery through participation in liturgical worship. May he now experience the fullness of that love!
    Pat Parachini, SNJM

  7. Fr. Kevin was a gifted scholar and a gifted liturgist. But, more than that, he was holy and prayerful man. He gifted everyone with his wisdom and his wit. His courses were life-giving–an intellectual and spirtual retreat. I will be grateful for his wisdom for ever.

    Dear Kevin — may you be embraced by the love of God and be received at the heavenly banquet — the banquet which you loved on earth and will now rejoice at for ever and always.

  8. In class, many years ago, Kevin taught me something that I will always remember:
    “Mystery is mystery not because it is incomprehensible, but, rather, because it is infinitely comprehensible.”
    May Kevin fall wildly into the waves of such wondrous comprehensibility!
    In communion,
    Richard Fragomeni

  9. No more annual Christmas card with that unique and inimitable handwriting…
    No more of that high-pitched, infectious laugh…
    No more wit and incisive, insightful analysis and comment…
    No more mutual catching up on news…
    No more “putting the Church to rights”…

    Farewell, good friend and wonderful teacher. We will all miss you terribly.

  10. Oh, my….
    I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to learn from Fr. Kevin at St. John’s… not just the facts about liturgy… but liturgy in its depth and breadth… his classses were not just intellectually stimulating and challenging, but spiritually rich and transformative. Truly an instance of ‘God’s Gift Giving’….

    Thank you, Fr. Kevin… and the St. John’s community.

  11. I remember Fr. Kevin’s beginning his classes with prayer. “Gracious God,” they usually began. May Kevin now behold that gracious God face to face lost in wonder, love and peace!

  12. An inspiration to so many, his New Liturgy, New Laws transformed the
    way I thought about the liturgy. A true son of St Benedict, may he rest in the joy of the |Risen Lord

  13. April 28, 2013: This morning at 5:30 a.m., I was suddenly awake (not a usual thing for me.) The moon was shining brightly into my bedroom and as I pondered its beauty, I offered a prayer of gratitude. Later, I heard our teacher and friend Rev. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB had died at that very moment. When Kevin received the McManus Award from the FDLC in 2009, I met him at the airport. On the way to the FDLC gathering, he talked about the cultural shifts and changes in the Church and his disappointment with its leaders. As we got closer to the meeting place he said, “But, this is not what the FDLC needs to hear right now. I want to encourage them patience and zeal for the future of the Church.” In his acceptance address, he urged us to remain grounded our humanity, humility, and humor. He told us that ” . . . the words all come from the Latin humus, meaning ‘earth.’ In these days we do well to be people who are ‘down to earth.’” Humanity, he said, “keeps us from being an arrogant people” and “It enables us to speak and execute our ministerial roles not only with our minds and bodies but especially with our hearts.” Our humanity, “keeps us compassionate and understanding.” Humility, he taught us, makes us a grateful people for our God given gifts and “helps us realize that what is ideal in theory is not always ideal in practice.” Humor prevents us from taking ourselves too seriously. Then, as usual, he cited another artist, “As Tennyson once remarked, ‘Our little systems have their day’ but God is always ‘more than they.'” I believe Kevin knew how much his students, throughout the years, loved him. They loved him because they understood that he poured love into every lecture. I marveled, as a simple student, at the perfection of every presentation. Like a passionate lover, he caressed every word, smoothed over every phrase, poured out his spirit on every paragraph, and gave birth to theological thought through a prism of color. As a result, there was so much more for the student to…

  14. Many of us who were not privileged to study with him, remember his books, plus his lectures at conventions and gatherings. When I first saw him speak years ago, he exuded joy. As I spoke with him after the talk, it was clear the joy wasn’t just about liturgy. He had a joy that seeped through his whole demeanor–it had to be faith.

  15. I pay my high respects and gratitude to a mentor who might have influenced me a lot as a monk and helped shape my over-all perspectives on the things and ways I live my liturgy specially on care and respect to the voice of the marginalized and other cultures in liturgy. Sometimes, God bless us with people to guide and bless us to see and encounter the Divine: Fr. Kevin Seasoltz, OSB is definitely one of them. As we would say in the Philippines, “Maraming salamat po Fr. Kevin at hanggang sa muling handaan ng Panginoon!” (Thanks and ’till our next grand celebration in paradise.)

  16. In 2005, I was privileged to facilitate an FDLC-GCL Study Week at which Fr. Seasoltz was a presenter. Though I had introduced every speaker with their impressive credentials, he “mandated” that I simply introduce him as “Kevin from Collegeville.” I obeyed. What followed was an afternoon of spell-binding wisdom, wit, scholarship, and deep pastoral insights into Liturgical Law.

    May the angels welcome him to Paradise.

  17. May the angels lead you to paradise, Fr. Kevin. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and love for sacramental theology and liturgy. It was a blessing to learn about Eucharist from you and your teaching continues to shape me today. May God welcome you into the eternal banquet, the mystery of which you have invited so many of us into as a teacher, mentor and faithful servant of God.

  18. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from Fr. Kevin,, particularly his teaching on the Eucharist. Yet with all of his profound theological thought and masterful presentation, a couple of his more memorable brief remarks have stayed with me: “Don’t get in a rut. Do you know the definition of a ‘rut?’ A rut is a shallow grave.” “Meet people where they are; just don’t leave them there.” Fr. Kevin, we are blessed to have known you!

  19. Only today I heard about the death of Kevin. He has made a significant contribution to the liturgy as monk, teacher and author. I first met Kevin in 1972 when I started to work at the Bishops’ Committee in DC. Subsequently we had collaborated on a number of things. The words of Pius V, as we celebrate his memorial today, might be appropriate: “Qui fecit totum, Ipse perficiat opus.” My condolences to Kevin’s family, Abbot John and the monastic community at our loss. Peace, Kevin.
    Thomas A. Krosnicki, SVD

  20. Fr. Seasoltz was a humble man. I had him for summer graduate courses in 1987 and 1988 in Collegeville. He was a keen observer of people, rituals, and creation. Many things I remember from his witness, most notably he would usually be the first monk to arrive for prayer. In gratitude for his wisdom and example. Rest in peace good and faithful servant.

  21. Kevin was my first professor for my first SOT class: “Theology and Spirituality.” He spoke of leadership – authority – as authoring life into those who reported to you…And – administration – containing the root word :”minister.” He reminded us that “the evil of the day is sufficient thereof.” No need to look for suffering – life provides enough! He was a brilliant and humble man. I am grateful that our lives touched. May he be reunited with those he loved who have gone home before him…

  22. I have his book here on my desk, and I cherish the memory of our visits at St. John’s. I so much hoped to see him again this summer, and will sense his presence in the lovely surroundings. Peace and rest, beloved Kevin.

  23. What a great gift to us all! Thank you God.
    I loved Kevin’s classes. They were stimulating. He was always prepared and was able to draw so many threads together.
    I feel very blessed to have had him as a prof at Saint John’s.

  24. Father Seasolz was the best teacher I have ever had in my many years of education. I took his course “The Church Today” when I was an undergrad English major at the Catholic University of America in 1964. My notebook from his class is the only one I have kept over these many years. He showed us co-eds the beauty of spirituality and informed us of the multiple layers of meaning and symbolism inherent in Catholicism. I can still hear him say: “A Christian is a Christian ALL day long.” The potential of the Church has fallen so far short of what I had believed it could/would be back then that I no longer have faith in it. Unfortunately, right now and for the past year, a letter of gratitude to Father Seasolz remains on my computer desktop waiting to be “perfected” before sending it off to him. With shock and regret, I read of Father Seasolz’s passing today in my CUA alumni magazine. Carpe Diem has taken on a new and painful meaning for me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *