by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Some men agonize over whether or not they have a vocation to the priesthood. Not Deacon Keith Edward Chadwick.
He’s never had to surprise his friends or break the news to his parents. He’s always known that the priesthood is what he wanted and so did they.
“When I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a priest for the first time,” said Deacon Chadwick.
“It was pretty public. My classmates always knew it and my parents always knew it,” he continued. “I remember Fifth-Grade Vocations Day, when they asked us who wanted to be a priest, and I was the first one who stood up.”
There was that one, brief time when he thought he’d grow up to be a lay canon lawyer, but that didn’t last long.
Soon, after many years, he will realize his dream of becoming a priest.
He was ordained a transitional deacon by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 16, 2020, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
And Deacon Chadwick — with two other men — will be ordained a priest by Archbishop Naumann at 10 a.m. on May 29 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, participation is by invitation only.
Deacon Chadwick is one of the four children of Robert “Chad” Chadwick and Sheryl Chadwick of Bonner Springs. He and his brother Kyle are twins.
His father is a real estate agent and his mother is on the family advisory board at Children’s Mercy Hospital. They belonged to Sacred Heart Parish, which relocated to Shawnee after a fire destroyed the Bonner Springs church.
He grew up in a “pretty good Catholic household,” he admitted. They never missed Mass on Sundays. He went to Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way through the seminary. Growing up, it seemed that he and Kyle were altar servers “every Sunday” beginning in fourth grade, maybe because as twins they were an ever-ready pair.
“I’ve always been pretty religious as a kid,” said Deacon Chadwick. “I said I wanted to be a saint in preschool, and then in kindergarten I said I wanted to be a priest and haven’t changed too much since then. Religion was always my favorite class as a kid.”
As a teenager, Deacon Chadwick participated in Prayer and Action, the parish youth group and all the archdiocesan summer camps — Camp Kateri through Xtreme Camp at Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg. Not only was he an altar server into his high school years at his parish, he was eucharistic minister as well.
In all that time, his desire to become a priest remained, but it needed to mature. That happened when he met a very special priest during high school.
“When looking at high schools, I chose St. James Academy [in Lenexa], because they had daily Mass and I could learn about my faith and live my faith better,” said Deacon Chadwick.
“Monsignor Ray Burger, the chaplain at St. James, was very encouraging to guys who wanted to serve and lector,” said Deacon Chadwick.
“He started the Magnificat Society, which was a vocations club,” he said. “We met after school and said evening prayer together. He was always a good example to us about how to be a faithful young man and what a vocation to the priesthood would look like.”
In addition to his pastor Father Craig Maxim, another person who influenced his vocation was Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher. They kept in touch, and the archbishop became a mentor. Archbishop Emeritus Keleher will vest Deacon Chadwick at his priestly ordination.
After he graduated from St. James in 2012, he went to Conception Seminary at Conception, Missouri, and then to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
Deacon Chadwick knows he’s being ordained a priest during a difficult time in the church, but says there has never been an easy time in the church.
“The Lord raises up those to be his priests who he chooses and calls,” he said, “so the Lord has asked me to help him carry his cross in this particular way, like he does with every vocation.
“So, it doesn’t really frighten me to be ordained a priest in this tumultuous time in the church, because the church has always had tumultuous times.”
Name: Keith Edward Chadwick
Born: Kansas City, Kansas
Raised: Bonner Springs
Parents: Robert and Sheryl Chadwick
Siblings: Tyler, Brett and Kyle
Home parish: Sacred Heart, Shawnee
Education: St. James Academy, 2012; Conception Seminary College, Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, 2016; Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, Master of Divinity, 2021
The most inspirational Christian(s) I’ve ever met: Cardinal (Raymond) Burke
Favorite food: Chipotle
Favorite smell/scent: Vanilla
What I wanted to be growing up: Priest since 1999; before that, I wanted to be a saint.
Worst job I’ve ever had: I’ve enjoyed all of them.
Things I like to do: I like to talk, play piano and read.
Most important life lesson learned (so far): Turn everything over to God.
The closest I’ve come to death: car accident right after my diaconate ordination (not seriously injured)
If I could do it all over again, I’d: take myself less seriously.
Best vocation advice I’ve received: Love the people and let them show you how to be a good priest.
Who had the greatest impact on you seeking your vocation: Msgr. Ray Burger, Archbishop Keleher, Archbishop Naumann, so many brother seminarians
My advice for vocation discerners: Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament and take it a step at a time.
What I’m looking forward to most as a priest: I look forward to saying Mass and forgiving sins.