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Father Keating upholds four pillars of priesthood

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher poses with newly ordained priest Father Ryan Keating following the ordination Mass of four local men at at St. Joseph Cathedral. Photo by Dan Cappellazzo

A priest must be equal parts educator, spiritual guide and evangelizer. Ryan Keating fits the bill.

The Buffalo native joined Teach for America, a teacher corps that brought him out to Arizona where he taught fourth grade.

“I always liked school. I always liked the school environment and learning, so I thought that I would try teaching,” he said.

A decade into his teaching career, the 43-year-old starting looking at what would fill his soul.

“My faith was always important to me in my life,” he said. “I started really discerning priesthood, spending more time in prayer, and did some retreats.”

This led to prison ministry, helping to spiritually guide convicts to a better path in life, which heavily influenced his vocation. Father Keating said the experience helped him realize that using the Word of God to help people was what he felt called to do. He also took part in some retreats at Christ the King Seminary, and spoke to priests about the call to serve God.

It was at this time that Msgr. John Zeitler, who passed away in 2016, brought up the subject.

“He asked me one day after Mass, ‘Ryan, ever thought about being a priest?’ I was discerning at the time. I said yes. Then I got in touch with the vocation office. That was the final bit of encouragement that I needed to enter the seminary.”

Now ordained, he will serve at St. Mary Parish in Swormville, where he hopes to bring the Good news into the community.

“As a deacon, we were able to proclaim the Gospel, and I look forward to continuing to proclaim the Gospel and give reflections on the Gospel,” he said. “I’m also really looking forward to accompanying people in the good times and the challenges of their lives, getting to know as many people as I can. Also, I hope to do some outreach in the community, to people who are less fortunate – those who live in poverty or are incarcerated or sick.”

His proudest moment as transitional deacon came when he welcomed a new member into the Catholic faith by celebrating the private baptism of his friend’s daughter.

Father Charles Johnson, who was ordained the same day as Father Keating, has been impressed by his friend’s pastoral nature.

“He’s always caring about the other person wanting to make sure they’re OK, and want to know how they’re doing,” Father Johnson said.

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