Joan Kirby, RSCJ (1926 – 2015)

In Memorium

In 1994, Sister Kirby found her true passion when she became the director of the Temple of Understanding (TOU) in New York, an interfaith organization affiliated with the United Nations. The TOU works to educate adults and young people across cultures and religion to create understanding and peaceful co-existence. Sister Kirby remained with the Temple of Understanding, first as director, then as its representative to the United Nations, until 2014, when her illness made it necessary for her to retire.

In 2010, the Temple of Understanding presented Sister Kirby with the Interfaith Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award “for promoting interreligious values at the United Nations, her lifelong commitment to addressing human rights and ecological issues, and her passionate devotion to the development of young leaders.” UN Secretary General BAN Ki-Moon wrote at the time, “We are especially mindful of the special role you have played in advancing the Millennium Development Goals and interfaith and intercultural dialogue, as well as confronting climate change. I am also thankful that you have taken the time to nurture young global citizens from all parts of the world. Your leadership has been exemplary. Your influence profound. I thank you.”

Alison Van Dyk gave a memorial presentation highlighting Sister Kirby’s work with the UN. She wrote, “Sr. Kirby lived a life of devotion, compassion and service. This quality made her a kind of ‘beacon of light’ for those who needed solace and comfort. …She radiated a kind of centered wisdom, a personal achievement and quality that can only be found through a deep and abiding faith.”

 

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