Father Michael Thomas Santa, OSB, a monk of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kan., died on Sunday evening, March 10, 2013.
The monks of the Abbey will pray Vespers for the Dead for Father Michael in the Abbey Church on Friday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be offered there on Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m., with Abbot James R. Albers officiating at both. Burial will follow in the monastery cemetery. The Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Gifts in honor of Father Michael can be made to St. Benedict's Abbey, 1020 N. 2nd Street, Atchison, Kansas 66002.
Thomas Michael Santa was born on December 17, 1930, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Michael T. and Anne Rochey Santa. He attended Immaculate Conception Grade School and Immaculata High School in Leavenworth, Kan., graduating from high school in 1948.
After graduating from St. Benedict's College in 1952, he entered Kenrick Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. Shortly after completing his theology studies, he was ordained a priest on March 17, 1956, by Archbishop Edward Hunkeler at St. Peter's Cathedral in Kansas City, Kan. After twenty-eight years as a priest, he entered St. Benedict's Abbey, receiving the monastic name Michael. He professed First Vows on September 15, 1984 and Solemn Vows on October 24, 1987.
For the first four years of his priesthood, 1956-1960, Father Michael served as associate pastor of Assumption Parish in Topeka, Kan., and Holy Name Parish in Kansas City, Kan. He also served as Instructor of Religion at Donnelly College and chaplain for the University of Kansas Medical Center, both in Kansas City, Kan.
For the next thirty years, Father Michael mainly held teaching and educational administrative positions, and he performed his duties with distinction. From 1960-1979, he was the principal and religion teacher at Hayden High School in Topeka, Kan. From 1984-1996, he was Instructor of Education at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. He was also a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principles, and for his faithful and distinguished service throughout his life, Benedictine College conferred upon him the Kansas Monk Award in 1981. Throughout those years, he also served another stint as pastor of Assumption Parish in Topeka, Kan., as well as St. Joseph's Parish in Shawnee, Kan.
Father Michael was preceded in death by his loving parents and two sisters, Patricia Forge and Ona Hunt. He is survived by his sister, Roberta, two brothers-in-law, Gene Forge and Jim Sexton, and sixteen nephews and nieces.