Fr. Kirby has a great knowledge and love for Saint Peter’s Basilica, which he sees as a “living monument” to the Christian faith. Many people have commented that his tours of the basilica are “like going on a small retreat.” It is said that Fr. Kirby “makes the story come alive,” and “I can see” what he’s describing.
As an undergraduate student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, he majored in history and focused on the story and figures associated with St. Peter’s Basilica. As a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, Fr. Kirby served as a tour guide of the basilica for two years. Additionally, as a seminarian, Fr. Kirby served as an English Tutor to the Pontifical Swiss Guard for the academic years 2003/2004 and 2005/2006.
In 2003, during the festivities surrounding the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Fr. Kirby was selected to give a tour of the basilica to Sister Nirmala Joshi, MC, the successor of Mother Teresa as the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, and the other original co-founders of the Congregation. At that time, Sister Nirmala encouraged Fr. Kirby to write out his basilica tour in book form. This recommendation eventually led to the book, Encountering the Lord in His Holy Courts: A Walk Through Saint Peter’s Basilica(Bethune: Signo Press, 2009).
In 2006, Fr. Kirby was ordained a transitional deacon in the basilica’s Chapel of the Chair. Since then, he has led numerous groups on pilgrimages and tours through the basilica. In 2010, he coordinated the Fr. Kolbe Vocations Pilgrimage which included extensive tours of St. Peter’s Basilica.