Father Alex Kirsten, died on January 17, 2018 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. He was 70 years old and had been in religious life for 47 years. Fr. Kirsten was born on June 5, 1947 in Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa. After attending high schools in Toronto and Burlington, he completed a B.Sc. Zoology at the University of Guelph. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Guelph, ON in 1971. After his studies in Guelph and two years of teaching at Gonzaga High School in St. John’s, NL, he had a year of clinical pastoral training at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, NS. Theology studies at Regis College in Toronto followed and he was ordained a priest on June 2, 1979 by Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter.
After ordination, Fr. Kirsten went to work at St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg, MB for 20 years. He was a teacher and chaplain and later director of the apostolate at the school, serving as president and superior of the Jesuit community. In 1982, he spent a year in Oakland, CA for tertianship.
In 1999, Fr. Kirsten moved to Toronto and served as acting superior, Province treasurer, acting socius and revisor of finances for the houses of the Province. In 2004, he was appointed director of Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, ON and was responsible for setting up Martyrs’ Hall, an educational centre for school groups and pilgrims. At that time, he joined the Apostolate among the Native People at Manitoulin for two years. He was diagnosed with cancer and moved to Pickering for medical treatment. Restored to health, he served as the director of René Goupil House, the Infirmary in Pickering in 2013. In 2015, struggling with different bouts of bad health, he provided spiritual ministry at Manresa-Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering. The last few months of his life while receiving bone marrow transplant treatment were difficult.