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Rev. Nicholas (Kevin) Ast, O.S.B., monk of St. Gregory’s Abbey, died in the Abbey infirmary on Friday, November 17, 2023. He was sixty years old. He had completed thirty-three years of monastic profession and served for twenty-two years as a priest.
Fr. Nicholas was born on November 13, 1963, and raised in Colwich, KS, where he was a member of Sacred Heart Parish. After completing high school at Andale High School, he attended St. Gregory’s College earning an Associate of Arts degree and named as c0-valedictorian of his class. He then completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Newman University in Wichita, KS, majoring in both English and History.
He entered the novitiate at St. Gregory's Abbey on July 10, 1989, and professed vows as a monk on July 11, 1990. He continued his academic formation at Wichita State University, earning a Master of Science in American History. He pursued seminary formation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA, completing a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 22, 2001.
Within the monastery, Fr. Nicholas served on various occasions as a member of the Senior Council, assisted with the formation of novices, and for several years as Director of Oblates. His primary work assignment was service on the faculty and staff of St. Gregory’s College and University. He taught courses in American and European history, Western Civilization and Sacred Scripture. He was a beloved instructor, bringing to his classes both thorough preparation and an engaging sense of humor. He assisted with several student organizations, including as sponsor of the Student Alumni Council and as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Gregory’s. He eventually served as Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries and as Vice President for Mission and Identity. Students named him “Faculty Member of the Year” for several consecutive years, and also “Most Inspirational Staff Member” on several occasions. Many alumni remained in touch with him, inviting him to celebrate with them significant moments in their lives. In addition to his campus assignments, Fr. Nicholas frequently provided weekend supply ministry at parishes throughout Oklahoma. He was an excellent homilist.
Strengthened by the sacraments of the Church, Fr. Nicholas died in the Abbey infirmary from complications following an acute infection leading to open heart surgery. Fr. Nicholas deeply valued his vocation and his close relationship with his family. He is survived by the monks of St. Gregory’s Abbey, his mother Mary Ann Ast of Colwich, KS, and brothers Jim (Tina) Ast, Steve (Jeanne) Ast, and Joe (Sandy) Ast. He is predeceased by his father, Aemil Ast.
Visitation is available at St. Gregory’s Abbey 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, and 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 am. on Wednesday, November 22. Vigil for the Deceased will be celebrated in the Abbey Church at St. Gregory’s on Tuesday, November 21, at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in the Abbey Church on Wednesday, November 22, at 2:00 p.m. Interment will follow in the Abbey Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Gregory’s Abbey, 1900 W. MacArthur, Shawnee, OK 74804-2404.