Gretchen Allen, Staff Writer
If you want to take a look at what life as a monk is like, then dive in with me as we talk with Father Kilian about his opinions on life, faith, Saint Martin’s, and his up and coming rapper name.
Father Kilian has been at Saint Martin’s since 1952, and still remembers what it was like his first years here. His family moved to Washington later in his life, and they sent him on his way to get an education at the nearest Catholic high school; Saint Martin’s. He says that it was not out of the ordinary to send children off to school back then, and he enjoyed his times. Father Kilian hitch-hiked his way to Lacey and hitch-hiked his way back home during the breaks. In his early days, Father Kilian had many different jobs around campus, some of these jobs included working in the residence halls, campus ministry, the registrar, and as Dean of Students. While a student, he worked in the gardens, tended to the animals, noting that everyone pitched in. His first year teaching was in 1961.
I asked what the one thing Father Kilian would change about Saint Martin’s University, as he has seen many years pass, and he says his biggest wish is “For Saint Martin’s to have a swimming pool. I have always wanted to have a wonderful Olympic size swimming pool for students to exercise and to swim.” As generations have come and gone at Saint Martin’s, one thing Father Kilian says has stayed the same is the eagerness for students to learn, the excitement they have for the knowledge, and experiences they are gaining.
On a more serious note, we discussed some faith questions with regards to monks, priests, and our students today. His response to the differences in the vows of a traditional priest, and our Benedictine monks is that, “The monk commits himself to a monastic community of other monks living in unity with one another. The priest does not do that. His commitment is to the bishop, and the bishop assigns where his parish is.”
One difference between the monks and the priest, is that while the priest can be moved around many times, the monks vow themselves to one monastery. Each Benedictine monastery has its own mission, Father Kilian explained, and most of them have schools. The question arose of what would be two things that he would say, if the opportunity came about to speak with God face-to-face.
Father Kilian began his answer with expressing gratitude for the amazing life he has been given already, for his family and the people he has met. “I would ask God if and when there would be a time of peace and justice in the world.” He refers to the Kingdom of God being a place of justice and peace, and is curious if we are doing a good job at obtaining those matters. He sees the hope of a future where people are not suffering, or impoverished, and peace. He pleads with God, “Why is it taking so long for this kingdom of justice to come around?” The second question was a heart-felt one asking “Are my mom and dad peacefully in Heaven? Are they happy?” Anyone who knows Father Kilian can see his caring and compassionate heart.
A wise man that he is, I asked “What would be some wisdom you would like the current class to have? What do you think we have wrong?” Father Kilian makes the point that “You are a select few. Not everyone goes to college.” He explains that your education is not about being able to get a better job or a better car, instead he offers the advice that “your education is about opening your mind, enabling you to be able to read and judge critically, honestly, and to see people as they really are.” We are reminded to not take this for granted and we are a very special group of people. Father Kilian states that there are millions of people in the world who cannot even read or don’t have a job. He says students should be very grateful and use that to fuel their service towards others. “You are responsible to help heal those in need. Help them. Change them. Your education should not just be for you to hold onto. Its’ to enable you to be an ambassador of goodwill and of God to the world.”
A thought he gave me to ponder was “Were we better off communicating with each other before everyone got caught up in their phones?” Walking down the halls, you pass over half the people on their phone who don’t even look up. When you walk in a classroom, everyone is sitting silently on their phone. Were we really better at communication before the devices we claim to help us communicate more efficiently? Father Kilian thinks that “Maybe always being on our phones breaks down that sense of interaction.” Technology is good; but is it always the best? We could see technology diminishing interaction with students and faculty face-to-face. He says “Sometimes I find [phones] to be too much. Other times I can’t say whether it negatively impacts the relationships between students and faculty.”
As we continued to talk about students and faculty, Father Kilian remembers when students would bring their horses to campus. He described how he would take students riding during classes and on weekends. “Everyone loved it. Students would go crazy about it.” Father Kilian wishes that we could still have horses on campus today, but due to the horses being so close to residential areas’ water, the city of Lacey declines our request for horses. He shared with me that he did not grow up wanting to be a monk, but instead wanted to be a jockey. His dream was to ride horses, to train them. But he says, “Since then I have realized that professional horse racing can be very cruel to those animals.” Currently, he is protesting any type of animal cruelty because of his love for horses and all animals.
As far as Father Kilians’ rapper name; we can expect to see Killer Kilian dropping some mix tapes here soon.