Deacon Kalkowski remembered for compassion, devotion to Eucharist
June 2, 2022
Years as a social worker, then as a hospital chaplain, sharpened Deacon Kenneth Kalkowski’s listening skills and deepened his compassion, his daughter said.
Years of eucharistic adoration and daily Mass made him eager to share the gift of Holy Communion with the sick and homebound he visited, she said.
Deacon Kalkowski – who served for 33 years at St. John Parish on the Creighton University campus and at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Omaha – died May 26 at his home surrounded by family, his daughter Maggie Kalkowski said. He was 90.
A memorial Mass was offered May 31 at Our Lady of Lourdes.
Deacon Kalkowski was ordained a permanent deacon in 1989.
He served at St. John for about 20 years before he and his late wife, Renee Waite Kalkowski, moved to Our Lady of Lourdes, where he served another dozen or so years.
He was born on a farm near Creighton, Nebraska, the oldest of four children born to the late Mabel and Stanley Kalkowski.
He served in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Honolulu, from 1951 to 1955.
Deacon Kalkowski worked for about 20 years as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Omaha, retiring in 1994.
He then served as a chaplain at the former St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha.
The deacon also was involved in Make Today Count, which provides support for cancer patients, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Omaha Together One Community (OTOC).
His life of service and advocacy rubbed off on his seven children, who have worked in such fields as social work, education, chaplaincy and interpreting for the deaf, said Maggie Kalkowski, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes.
“He loved my mom fiercely,” she said.
“He was kind of lost when Mom died” in 2020, after 67 years of marriage, she said. So he started a phone ministry in which he called widows and widowers to pray and talk. That ministry helped him as well as those on the other end of the calls, Kalkowski said.
Deacon Kalkowski and his wife traveled a lot, including regular trips to Benson, Arizona, that involved service at another Our Lady of Lourdes Parish there.
The parish priest in Arizona planned his vacations around the Kalkowskis so Deacon Kalkowski could offer Communion services and visit the sick while the priest was away.
Maggie Kalkowski said her father will be remembered for his kindness and sense of humor.
“He’s going to be missed,” she said.
Deacon Kalkowski was preceded in death by his parents, wife and a brother, Larry.
Survivors include his sisters Marilyn O’Brien Mills (John) and Judy Kalkowski; sisters-in-law Micki (Gary) Pospisil and Monika Kalkowski; children Kim (Robert Ottemann), Marty (Teresa), Julie (Paul Farrand), Dan, Christie (Tim Gomo), Maggie (Kevin O’Connell) and Karen (Maximo) Buschfrers; 14 grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; nieces and nephews.