Father August R. Kircher, MM
Born: May 9, 1915
Ordained: June 22, 1914
Died: July 24, 1998
Father August Kircher died at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York, in the early afternoon of Friday, July 24, 1998. Father Kircher was 83 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 57 years.
August “Gus” Kircher, the youngest of six children, was born to Joseph Kircher and Emma Knips Kircher in New York City, New York, on May 9, 1915. Both parents were born in Germany but did not meet until their families emigrated to New York in the early 1890s. Their first child was a girl who died at the age of 18 months; and the rest of the progeny were five boys, of whom Gus was the youngest.
Father Kircher’s mother was a great influence in his life. The earliest recollection he has of her was when he was about 4 years of age when she had him kneel at her knees for morning and evening prayers. In January 1922, he was enrolled in St. Alphonsus School.
After his mother’s death, his Uncle Joe and his wife, Clara, a childless couple, took in August and his brother John. While with them, he was a pupil at St. Bridgid’s School in Ridgewood and was confirmed there. After the death of his uncle, he moved in with another Aunt. He was enrolled in St. Barbara’s School in Ridgewood from which he graduated in January 1929. Both Aunts were very devout and both families had subscriptions to The Field Afar magazine which he read avidly, taking a profound interest in the pictures and mission stories.
On an altar boy picnic, Gus went to Maryknoll where he met the seminarians and became interested in becoming a Maryknoll priest through correspondence with them, he got to the point of making a request to Father James A. Walsh to join Maryknoll. He entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard), Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, in September of 1929 at the age of 14. He was ordained at Maryknoll, New York, by Archbishop Francis Spellman on June 22, 1941.
Father Kircher, with most of his classmates, was assigned to China, but while awaiting passports at Maryknoll Junior Seminary in Mountain View, California, he received an assignment to promotion work in Chicago where he covered various Church dates in Illinois and Iowa.
In March 1942, Father Kircher was assigned to the new Maryknoll Mission in Bolivia, South America, where he served his entire mission service of 53 years. As part of the original group assigned to Bolivia, he and Father David I. Walsh took up residence with the Austrian Franciscans in Santa Cruz where they studied Spanish before taking over the administration of the parish and famous shrine of Our Lady of Cotoca. Father Kircher developed a close relationship with the Franciscans and worked closely with them during his entire missionary career. Off and on, he served as Assistant or Pastor in various parishes in the Diocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. In 1949 he served for a time as the Director of the Society House in Cochabamba. In April 1950 he was named Acting Group Superior for the Maryknoll Group in the Bolivian Dioceses, a position he held until April of 1953. In 1955 he was appointed First Consultor for the Bolivian Dioceses area to the South American Society Superior.
In 1980 he applied for admission to the Special Society Unit with residence in San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia. He served there as the Chaplain in two hospitals in the city. His ministry there with the Austrian Franciscans was a happy one and the schedule was not overburdening. Some folks wondered why he enjoyed the area and work, and his reply was that “as long as my health permits, I would not trade San Ignacio de Velasco for any place east of Broadway or south of Greenpoint.”
In July 1995 Father Kircher returned to the United States and moved to St. Teresa’s Residence at Maryknoll, New York, where he resided until his death.
Wake services were held for Father Kircher at St. Teresa’s Residence Chapel at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, 1998 and at 7:30 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel, Maryknoll Center, where Father Philip Erbland officiated and Brother Joseph Ziegler read the biography. Father Michael Simone was the Principal Celebrant of the Mass of Christian Burial concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, July 27, 1998. Father David I. Walsh was the homilist and Father Thomas Henehan presided at the grave side service at the Maryknoll Society Cemetery at Maryknoll, New York.