Published May 29, 2014
ATLANTA—Father Denis A. Kolumber, a priest of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, died Friday, May 16, at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn. He was 74.
Father Kolumber served in the Archdiocese of Atlanta from 1990 to 2004, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Smyrna and at Our Lady of La Salette Church in Canton. He also initiated and sustained ministry to Hispanic communities in Cartersville and Jasper during that period.
An April 1998 article in The Georgia Bulletin reported that Father Kolumber was traveling from the Canton parish, where he was serving as a parochial vicar, to St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Cartersville, to celebrate weekly Mass in Spanish for immigrant families there after the transfer of a pastor who had begun the Spanish Mass.
Father Kolumber had also begun celebrating Mass in Spanish at Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Jasper in 1997, which was a mission at the time. Hearing confessions in Spanish and trying to develop home visitations to welcome newly arriving Hispanics were his priorities.
The story related that the bilingual priest had spent 17 years in missionary work in Argentina.
In November 2000, Father Kolumber initiated the celebration of the Day of the Dead in conjunction with All Souls Day for Hispanic and Anglo residents of St. Francis of Assisi in Cartersville. He celebrated a bilingual Mass and was continuing to lead ministry to about 100 Hispanic families in the parish.
A native of East Douglas, Mass., Father Kolumber entered the La Salette novitiate in July 1960 and made his first profession of vows in July 1961. After priestly studies at the La Salette Seminary in Ipswich, Mass., he was ordained on May 27, 1967. He taught before leaving for the La Salette mission in Argentina, where he was remembered for his dedicated service in four parishes and as co-director of a house of formation. He was also elected regional superior there. Following his return to the United States, he served in parishes in Connecticut, Georgia and Texas. In 2008 as his health declined he was assigned to La Salette residences, most recently at St. Mary Home in West Hartford, Conn.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday, May 21, at the La Salette House Chapel in Hartford. Burial took place at Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield, Conn.
In addition to his La Salette confreres, he is survived by his sister, Mary Lamontagne, of East Douglas, Mass., a niece and two nephews.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Retirement Fund, 915 Maple Ave., Hartford, CT 06114-2330.