Longtime Member of the Rockhurst Jesuit Community Remembered For Compassionate Care

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Fr. Luke Byrne

Rockhurst University is mourning the death of the Rev. Luke Byrne, S.J., a longtime member of the Jesuit community here and former University chaplain.

Fr. Byrne died Jan. 27, in St. Louis. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1952 and was ordained in 1965, pronouncing his final vows at St. Francis Xavier Church in 1972. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a licentiate in philosophy from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts from the University of Notre Dame.

Fr. Byrne served as pastor at St. Francis Xavier Church from 1970-75, president of Rockhurst High School from 1975-80, and assistant to the Jesuit provincial from 1980-85. In 1998, he was named the chaplain of Rockhurst University, a position he held for 15 years.

During his time here, Fr. Byrne is remembered for the care he showed the entire campus community, including his steadfast support of the University’s student-athletes. As chaplain for Rockhurst’s athletic programs, he traveled with teams whenever possible and often joined players and coaches on the bench.

Gary Burns, University director of athletics, said Fr. Byrne approached that role, like all of his work, with a sense of kindness and compassion.

He was a tremendous role model in every sense, not only in his spiritual duties, but as a man of character and caring,” he said. “He really loved the student-athletes here.”

Even after moving to St. Louis, Missouri, following his Rockhurst tenure, Burns said Fr. Byrne would sit in the dugout nearly every time the Hawks took on Saint Louis University. He was inducted into the Rockhurst Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 2018, the University dedicated the press box at the Loyola Park baseball field in his name.

A funeral and burial for Fr. Byrne will be held next week, with a memorial service and reception to follow in Kansas City:

Monday, Feb. 3: Visitation from 5-7 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier College Church (3628 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108)

Monday, Feb. 3: Mass of Christian Burial at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier College Church

Tuesday, Feb. 4: Burial at 9 a.m. at Calvary Cemetery (5239 W. Florissant Ave., St. Louis, MO 63115)

Saturday, Feb. 22: Memorial Mass at 11 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church (1001 W. 52nd St., Kansas City, MO 64110) with a reception to follow in the Greenlease Library.