Father Kilian- From Monk to Professor

Kaitlin Cunningham, Staff Writer 


A professor in both the English and Religious Studies departments at Saint Martin’s University, Fr. Kilian Malvey, OSB, approaches life with a desire to spread the empowerment of education. 

Fr. Kilian first came to Saint Martin’s as a high school student in 1952. Where he comes from played a huge role in his decision to adopt the monastic lifestyle.

Fr. Kilian shared, “I was raised in an Irish Catholic family, so it was not anything new, that is, monastic life or monks, it wasn’t some strange thing because I had several cousins who were monastic, several who were brothers and priests including many sisters who were around.” 

While in high school, he felt no desire to be a monk, but graduation found a young Malvey experiencing the call to the monastic life. He joined Saint Martin’s Abbey in 1957, and has remained ever since. 

Fr. Kilian tries to approach his role as a professor from the perspective of helping students to reach freedom through their education. He recounted how his mother used to drive home the importance of education when he was younger: “You are never finished being educated. What education will do for you is free you, so you should always strive to educate yourself.” 

No matter what subject he might be teaching, Fr. Kilian brings that same approach to class, and tries to bestow that same wisdom on students so they can reach their full potential.

Although self-professed as technologically challenged, Fr. Kilian believes there is more to education than just books and information from a presentation. Instead, he thinks that “seeing others and learning from them” is the most effective form of learning.  

This attitude is a reflection of the Benedictine values which were instilled in him early on. This approach influences not only how he teaches, but also how he interacts with others. 

By learning to teach from a viewpoint of not just a monk, but also a professor, Fr. Kilian has learned many valuable lessons that help him teach students and guide them in their learning. Fr. Kilian’s philosophy about teaching is essentially this:

 “. . . the discipline of being a monk, that is, our life is pretty regulated in terms of we are expected to be at prayer, to do our meditations, to do our spiritual readings, when I have neglected those things life gets hard for me to keep track of, and I think in the same way that has helped me to guide students, to direct them in a way that is helpful to stay on track.” 


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