Died 23 December 2019
Jesuit Father Gábor Kiss died on Dec. 23, 2019, at René Goupil House in Pickering, Ontario (Canada). He was in his 96th year, and was in religious life for 74 years. Gábor, the son of Gabriel Kiss and Rosalia Gonda, was born in Bekesszentandras, Hungary on Oct. 30, 1924. He completed 6 grades of grade-school there. He began High School in 1937 in Peter Vajda High School, but he completed the higher grades as a minor seminarian in Nagyvárad, Oradea. He did his last year of studies in Szarvas and graduated there in 1945. On September 18, 1945 he entered the Society of Jesus at Manréza in Budapest. After novitiate, he began his philosophy studies in Szeged. Then the Communist regime confiscated the house.
With the growing persecution of the Church, in February 1949, he escaped together with Joseph Hauser to Austria under an express train. They spent a few days in Linz, then they went to Innsbruck for a few months, and from there to Chieri, Italy to finish his philosophy studies and receive his Master’s degree. In 1951 he was sent for regency to St. Blasien, Germany. In 1952 he began studying theology in Maastricht (Belgium). He was ordained a priest there in 1955. He started his tertianship in Ireland in 1956, but had to interrupt the year, because 500 Hungarian refugees had arrived in Limerick, Ireland. He became their chaplain, since he was the only Hungarian priest in Ireland. After ministering to them as their priest for one year, he then resumed his tertianship. In August 1958 he left Ireland for Canada, where he spent a few months first in Toronto, and then later in the Fall he was sent to Courtland, Ontario as chaplain.
From 1964 to 1973 he served at St. Stephen Hungarian Parish in Hamilton, Ontario. Then in 1973 he was sent to Yonkers, New York, where he became the pastor of St. Margaret of Hungary Parish for more than 20 years. During this time he was also the publisher of the Hungarian Sacred Heart Messenger. In April 1994 he tried to return to Hungary. He had a valuable experience during his stay among the Hungarians in the Carpathian Ukrainian region. But in August 1994 he returned to Canada and became the pastor of the Hungarian Parish of Our Lady of Hungary in Vancouver, B.C. In 1996 he went back to St. Ladislaus Parish in Courtland, Ontario. In 1998 for health reasons he retired and was missioned to the St. Elizabeth Village in Hamilton, Ontario to pray for the Society and the Church. In 2016 he moved to the Jesuit Infirmary at René Goupil House in Pickering, Ontario. It is there that he died peacefully surrounded by the prayers of other Jesuits on Dec. 23, 2019. The life of service of Gábor Kiss, and what it meant to him to be a Jesuit, can best be expressed by his reply of long ago: “I strive to do the best possible.”