Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Longtime Belmont Abbey monk dies

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At the age of 18, Kenneth Geyer vowed to live by the Rule of St. Benedict, who long ago instructed a community of 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.”

It was that call in 1946 that brought him to Belmont Abbey monastery and Gaston County from his native Lancaster, N.Y. But for a two-year stint teaching at Benedictine High School in Richmond, Va., he never left.

Geyer died unexpectedly on Wednesday evening in the monastery where he lived for 67 years.

Geyer led a full life of service at Belmont Abbey, most of it centering on his talents as a musician and a teacher. He was chairman and founder of the Department of Music and Fine Arts at Belmont Abbey College, he directed plays in the Abbey Theater, served on the college board of trustees and was the organist and choir director at Belmont Abbey for 50 years.

He taught art, music and French at Belmont Abbey College.

As chapter counselor of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, Geyer combined a love of music and candy. His last days on this earth, according to Abbot Placid Solari, were made especially joyful by the visit of four men he had mentored as students 45 years ago.

“Their visit included a substantial offering of candy,” Solari quipped in the eulogy delivered at a funeral mass Saturday.

A senior monk at the monastery, Father Matthew McSorley, recalls Geyer’s interest in both theater and miniature golf — he played frequently at a miniature golf course in Gastonia and also in the long corridors of the monastery.

“He was a loner and liked to keep to himself,” McSorley said. “He took everything seriously, except movies.”

His favorite movie was the 1954 comedy “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.” However, he took special liking to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a comedy about a high school student who skips school.

Though Geyer relied on a wheelchair during the last couple years of his life, he didn’t let that keep him indoors. He regularly ventured out on his own, often against the advice of other people, to view Belmont Abbey’s beautiful grounds. The appearance of peacefulness that surrounded him 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.”

Christopher Lux

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