Marvel in Christ: Take 5 with Father Joseph Keating

North Texas Catholic
(Apr 10, 2024) Take-Five-With-Father

Father Joseph Keating for Take 5 with Father on January 22, 2024 at Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

HE IS: Father Joseph Keating, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbott and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Penelope.

MORE GERMAN: Fr. Keating was born in Germany while his father served in the U.S. Air Force, then the family settled in San Angelo. His birthplace makes him an authentic German in Muenster, a town famous for its German heritage and festivals.

TRANSFORMER CHAPEL: Fr. Keating said the Catholic church where he was an altar server had “no bells and whistles.” The chapel at the San Angelo Air Force base also held Protestant services, so after Mass, statues and stations of the cross went into cabinets, and the crucifix was hoisted to the ceiling. 

Through prayers, Mass, and religious education, his parents made certain he and his two brothers had a strong Catholic identity, unlike the chapel.

THE CLASSROOM AND BEYOND: Fr. Keating studied marketing and business at Texas Tech University, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree. His involvement there in campus ministry helped him grow in faith and begin discerning the call to the priesthood.

After graduation, he worked in management for Walgreens for a year, then joined St. Mark Parish in Denton as youth minister.

“I really loved parish life. That ended up being a large part of my discernment. I saw the need for grace, saw the need for the availability of the sacraments. I saw the need to work with families and not just the kids. And that’s what drew me into the priesthood.”

BACK TO SCHOOL: He entered seminary in 2009. After two years of pre-theology studies, he studied at Rome’s Pontifical North American College for four years.

MUSIC MAN: From children’s choir to seventh-grade clarinet to the Goin’ Band from Raiderland, music “was a source of good friendships and structure” through his youth and young adulthood. 

When he entered seminary, he joined the seminary choir and was selected as a cantor, culminating in chanting the Gospel in Latin in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, 2016.

SOUVENIRS FROM ITALY: Fr. Keating said seminary in Rome gave him exposure to rich and diverse traditions of the Church, familiarity with governance of the Church, high-quality formation, and friendships with priests across the country.

ORDAINED: May 2, 2016, at St. Patrick Cathedral

BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A PRIEST: “Seeing people grow in their faithfulness, celebrating the Eucharist, getting to preach, and administering God’s mercy in confession.”

The grace of Confession is especially precious. He said, “I've benefited so much in my own faith by experiencing God's mercy through His ministers. And I want to be that for others.”

MOTIVATION: “What’s most encouraging as a priest is the faithfulness of the parishioners.”

NOT JUST FOR LENT: Fr. Keating recommends Catholics “practice self-denial in some way, even all throughout the year. We're so used to consuming, consuming, consuming — we need a little bit of self-denial.

“It breaks our habits of being enslaved to the worldly things that keep us away from God.”

HOBBIES: Fr. Keating enjoys hunting and cooking, especially Italian or French food. 

GROWING IN (WITH GOD’S HELP): “Charity, patience, faithfulness, humility. God doesn’t waste an opportunity to teach me humility,” he said with a laugh.

FAITHFUL TOGETHER: Fr. Keating said being a faithful person — a practicing Catholic, a good spouse, a good son, a good employee — “an integrated person who is trustworthy and keeps his or her commitments” takes discipline. 

“What helps with discipline is community. It feeds back on itself. It's a lot harder to practice discipline when you're the only one doing it, but your brothers and sisters help you to stay disciplined and faithful.”

ON FIRE: Fr. Keating borrowed the analogy of the burning bush to describe the Christian life. “On fire with God’s presence but not consumed. So God works through me, but He doesn't make me stop being me. He takes the good things He created in me and uses them for His purposes, and through that, He's also redeeming the sinful parts of me.”

Father Joseph Keating, Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbott, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Penelope, Rome’s Pontifical North American College, trending-english