+Fr. Donald (Thaddeus) Kos, OFM Conv. entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual Novitiate in Becket, MA, in 1953, Professed his Simple Vows on August 15, 1954 and his Solemn Vows on September 23, 1957. After earning a B.A in Philosophy from St Bonaventure University in 1958, +Friar Donald moved to Rome and continued formation at our Order’s Pontificia Facoltà Teologica San Bonaventura – Collegio Internazionale Seraphicum. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in our Curia’s Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in 1961 and continued his education, earning a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Seraphicum in 1964, and a Doctorate in Canon Law from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University in 1966.
That same year, at the request of the Most Reverend Fr. Basil Heiser, OFM Conv., the 114th Minister General after St. Francis, +Friar Donald began his work for the Order and for the Vatican in the office for the Postulation of Saints’ Causes. During that time he aided in the cause of the sainthood of our confrere, St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv.
Four years later, and under the same Minister General, +Friar Donald was elected to serve on the General Definitory of our Order as Assistant General serving the Conference of North America and England. He held that office until, in 1978, he was elected Procurator General of the Order, a position which he held for the next 17 years and re-assumed from 2007-2013. Within that time frame, he also held the higher position of Vicar General of the Order (1989 -1995).
In the eight-century history of our Franciscan Order, +Friar Donald had the unique distinction of being the only American to serve as Procurator General, and the related distinction of being the first of Polish nationality to hold that position.
+Friar Donald’s talents did not go unrecognized by the Vatican. Pope Saint John Paul II appointed him a votante (voter) on the Signatura Apostolica (Supreme Court of the Roman Curia) and in 1997, he was named Promoter of Justice in the Vatican dicastery (law-court) of the Apostolic Penitenzieria (tribunal of mercy of the Roman Curia, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins). +Friar Donald served in that position until in 2016, at the age of 80, Fr. Donald received the surprise of being appointed by Pope Francis to the post of “Judicial Vicar” for Vatican Tribunal Court of First Instance.
While in the USA in 2013, he was interviewed for “Real to Reel.”
After living and serving in Rome for 60 years, +Friar Donald returned to the United States, in December 2017, and was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. He moved to the hospice care of the Felician Sisters, in Enfield, CT and was called by Sister Death on February 4, 2018.
The Most Reverend Fr. Marco Tasca, OFM Conv., the 119th Minister General of the Franciscan Order will travel to the USA to celebrate +Friar Donald’s Funeral Mass, after which he will be buried in the Friars Plot at Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley, MA. Donations in his memory can be made to the Franciscan Education Burse, 12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.