Deacon Kirby Rust always had a desire to serve the church — even as a little boy sitting in the pews awaiting the day he’d be old enough to altar serve.
In a little more than a week, Deacon Rust will serve the people as one of the newest priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Deacon Rust and two other seminarians will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz on May 25 at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St. The other two ordinands are Deacons Anthony Cecil and Steven Reeves.
Deacon Rust, 26, describes himself as a “small-town boy” who had a “very blessed upbringing” along with his four siblings, including an identical twin brother.
He and his dad spent time fishing and hunting and the family went camping together. They attended Mass at St. Catherine Church in New Haven, Ky., where Deacon Rust said he felt his first call to become a priest.
“From an early age we’d go to Mass and I remember telling my parents I wanted to be an altar server,” said Deacon Rust.
When he became an altar server, he started thinking of serving as a priest, he said.
A priest who served in his parish at the time, Father Jeffrey Leger, further served to inspire him, said Deacon Rust.
“He was young and energetic. It stuck in my mind that he was young and doing something I’d like to do,” said Deacon Rust. “In high school, I really started thinking about it.”
But Deacon Rust said he pushed the thought of being a priest away, because “who doesn’t want a family and children?”
The desire to discern priesthood didn’t go away, though, after he graduated from Bethlehem High School in Bardstown,
Ky., and enrolled as a freshman at the University of Louisville.
“I lived off campus. I had independence. I was doing the things I thought would be awesome, but I knew there was something greater,” said Deacon Rust. “The idea of the priesthood never left me.”
He spent a year at the university before he called the archdiocese’s vocation office and met with Father Jeffrey Shooner, who was vocation director at the time.
Deacon Rust said he decided to enter the seminary to discern. Even if it didn’t work out, he felt the experience would help him be a “better man, husband and father.”
Deacon Rust enrolled at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., in 2012. “I fell in love with it and never looked back. I’ve had my hands on the wheel since then,” said the young deacon.
He also spent a year studying in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and three years at Mt. St. Mary’s of the West in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Deacon Rust said he doesn’t feel as though he’s given up anything to become a priest. He feels, he said, that he’s gained much more.
Now that he’s so close to fulfilling his dream, Deacon Rust said “I want people to know that I’ll work hard for them. I love Christ and this church.”
I want to “participate in the lives of the people and help them draw close to Christ through the celebration of Mass, through confession and help them to get to heaven and laugh along the way.”
Deacon Rust said he feels lucky to have been assigned as associate pastor of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., where he spent three summers as a seminarian.
He looks forward to celebrating Mass, visiting members of the faithful in hospitals and nursing homes, he said adding, “Everything I’ve dreamed of as a priest.”
Deacon Rust said he’s also looking forward to working with children at St. James School.
“I was impacted deeply by priests in school and I’d like to do the same for other young minds,” he said. Deacon Rust graduated from St. Catherine Academy in New Haven.
Deacon Rust will celebrate his first Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Catherine Church, his childhood parish, at 11 a.m. May 26.