Dodge City man ordained priest to Legion of Christ in Rome
(Click on READ MORE below for an essay written by Father Keiser, LC)
Rome, Italy – Frederick Keiser of Dodge City was among 31 men ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 14, 2013 in Rome at the basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S.
Of the 31 new priests, eight are American and one is from Canada. The others are from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Columbia and Chile.
Father Keiser was born on May 31, 1983, in Dodge City. He entered the Legionaries of Christ as a novice in Cheshire, Connecticut on Sept. 15, 1999, to move after to the noviciate at Salamanca, Spain, where he studied Classical Humanities. He has a degree in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Ateneum Regina Apostolorum. He has been a member of the team of formators of Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, and the Directorate General of the Legion. He currently serves as the youth minister in Santiago, Chile.
The Legionaries of Christ are a religious Congregation of priests, of pontifical rite, founded in 1941 in Mexico. Members of the Legion include four bishops, 932 priests and some 900 religious in preparation for the priesthood.
On the Legion’s website, www.ordenaciones.legionariosdecristo.org. Father Keiser and the other newly ordained priests were asked to share the moment that they felt the call to enter the priesthood.
The following is reprinted with permission.
By Father Frederick Keiser, LC
I was praying the rosary on a plane flying back home from my first retreat with the Legion of Christ. As the beads flowed through my hands I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would refer to later as the moment. The Moment had taken place less than a week before on Holy Thursday of 1994. It was very simple. I knelt down in a special adoration chapel surrounded by seminarians dressed in cassocks. Inspired by their fervor in prayer, I really felt that God was truly present there in Eucharist and I began to talk to Him. I was in prayer for a while when suddenly I felt a tremendous peace. A smile spontaneously arose onto my face, and the idea popped into my head that I would be really happy as one of these seminarians. The words “you will be happy here” kept repeating in my head. This was the moment. I couldn’t deny that it happened.
The plane started the landing process and I finished my rosary and stowed it into my pocket. I got off the plane accompanied by a flight attendant because I was only 10 years old. I looked out the airport window and saw snow, which really surprised me because it was April and it never snows in April in Kansas. I got my bags and waited, with the flight attendant nearby, for my parents to come pick me up. Time passed by and my parents still had not arrived. I thought that surely they were just held up by the snow.
Then a police car pulled up to the airport entrance got out and talked to the flight attendant that was watching over me. After showing her a document he came over to me and said, “Hello there, son. Your Dad couldn’t come pick you up so he asked me to.” The officer was really nice and the flight attendant told me that it was OK to go with him, so I did. To keep me calm the officer showed me some of his fire arms in his trunk which I thought was cool. Then, when we got in the car he asked me if I would like to go with the siren on just for fun. I said, “Sure” and we went zooming to my house. My 10 year old brain was not quite catching on to what was happening.
We pulled up to the drive way of my house and I walked through the front door and I saw my brothers and sisters together with my dad all crying. My dad immediately gave me hug and when I asked what was going on he pulled me into my room and sat me down. “Your mom passed away in a car accident on the way to pick you up from the airport,” he said with tears in his eyes. “She hit an icy bridge and the van flew over the side.”
I was crushed. The only thing I could do was cry, and as I cried I thought of the moment. “Was that even real?” I thought. The peace that I felt when I thought about the moment on the plane was not there anymore. Now when I thought about the moment doubts and questions arose. How could God call me and then take away my mom? It was a very difficult day for me, my dad and my five brothers and sisters. As these doubts and painful moments passed, I asked God to give me a sign to clear things up and show me what to do.
The next day we went to the funeral home to pray over her body. We prayed the rosary. I looked at my mom’s corpse as we prayed and I saw that they had placed in her hands a rosary. That was the same rosary that she used to have in the car with her. Mom had the habit of praying the rosary in the car when she was by herself. I found out later on that she passed away with that rosary in her hand.
In the days that followed, every time I prayed the rosary or just had one in my hand I felt like my mom was really close to me. It was as if Mary would bring her down to me every time I prayed it. The day before the funeral I was praying the rosary in our parish with my mom’s body present and I had another moment. I felt a tremendous peace as I prayed. I remember praying and knowing that the moment was real, that God was really calling me to be a priest in the Legion. Again I felt that I would be really happy being a priest even after all that had happened. I knew that my mom would be with me.
She has been with me this whole journey toward the priesthood. There have been more tough moments and all I needed to do in those moments was pull out my rosary. I have continued responding to the moment day after day. I felt in my heart that God told me, “You will be happy here”. Even with all the difficult moments that I have been through I can say with confidence (and with my rosary in hand) “I am truly happy in the Legion.”