Take 5 with Father: let Him lead the way
HE IS: Father Keith Hathaway, pastoral administrator of St. Rita Parish in Fort Worth. He also served as parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Arlington and Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls. He then left to study canon law at Catholic University of America, and he returned to the diocese last summer.
GROWING UP: In his youth, he was a lukewarm Catholic attending St. Jude Parish in Mansfield. On a scouting trip, a chilly fall into a cold mountain stream and subsequent hypothermia sparked a desire in him to plunge into his faith.
ORDAINED: May 23, 2015, at St. Patrick Cathedral.
POWERFUL PATRON: An Eagle Scout, Fr. Hathaway made a quick choice of St. George as his confirmation name because he is the patron saint of scouting, and every man is impressed by a dragon slayer. But through the years, the relationship has deepened. St. George “has always been a comfort and a help to me, especially praying for the courage to do the next right thing.”
UNIVERSAL CONGREGATION: Parishioners at St. Rita come from diverse backgrounds, with immigrants from many nations. “These are fantastic people with a wonderful sense of community. People are very welcoming, very loving. They have a very strong sense of parish identity and traditions here.”
PARISH PRIEST: Fr. Hathaway enjoys his parish assignment, because of “ the connections I make with people through the sacraments, either in the confessional, or anointing of the sick, or even burying the dead. Those are very important moments in the lives of people and their families, and it’s a grace to be a part of it.”
“It's okay that I don't have all the answers. When people are dying or when there's a death, I just try and offer them the hope that our faith gives us.”
LIFE LESSONS: In his eight years as a priest, “I've grown a lot in compassion and patience for people, because life is very messy, and every family is different.”
CALLING YOUNG PEOPLE: A former chaplain at Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls, Fr. Hathaway encourages the altar servers and students at St. Rita to “be open to what God has in store for you. Sometimes we think we have our lives completely planned out, but a lot of times plans don't always come out the way we want them to. We want to let ourselves be surprised by God. Priesthood was not something I expected for myself when I was a young child.”
AND ADVICE FOR PARENTS: “You have to talk to your children about God, about prayer, about your own faith. You have to be authentic — you have to talk about your own doubts, even.”
RECHARGING: In his free time, Fr. Hathaway enjoys fishing, reading, and hanging out with his fellow priests or his two cats, George and Esther. He is improving his cooking skills and has recently bought a barbecue smoker.
BEST READS: Fr. Hathaway likes to dive into the “small, overlooked books of the Bible” like Judith, Esther, Tobit, and Jonah. His favorite spiritual book is “He Leadeth Me” by Father Walter Ciszek, SJ, in which the priest gives an account of his 23 years in a Siberian labor camp, falsely accused of being a Vatican spy.
THE TAKEAWAY: “God is not far off or distant, but rather is intimately involved even in the little things in life. if we look for Him, we can find Him.”