Several years ago on this blog, I posted the sad news that a young priest had inexplicably taken his own life:
Last Thursday, our classmate, friend and brother priest, Fr. Kevin Kayda, died unexpectedly, just over a month shy of his 28th birthday. I was having dinner when the email from the Rector of the seminary popped up on the phone, and I stared at the screen in disbelief. There followed a flurry of phone calls and text messages with my classmates across the country. Shock, disbelief, speculation. What happened? Services were planned for the following Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon at Fr. Kevin’s home parish, St. Patrick’s, in Carlisle, PA. We were on the horn sharing travel plans, coordinating rides. Two of us suggested that we all gather at the Mount, about 50 minutes away from Carlisle. “It will be good for all of us to be together.” It seemed natural to go back to our Mountain home. On Saturday we got the official notice, that Fr. Kevin had taken his own life. It was like a sucker punch to the gut, even though some of us had suspected this. Kevin was a quiet guy: shy and introverted, but far from being a loner.
…Ours wasn’t a friendship of close and regular communication. Suicide is such a terrible and terrifying reality. What I am experiencing is only the outer edge of the maelstrom of devastation it leaves behind. “Why?” “How come none of us saw this?” “We didn’t know!” “Why didn’t he tell someone?” And, of course, “But, he’s a priest!” I can only barely begin to imagine the pain of those closest to him – his parents, his two sisters, his friends, his parishioners, the schoolchildren at the parish school, his DBs and the priests of Harrisburg. I simply cannot comprehend the mental state which would have lead my friend to take this step. I am at wits end, utterly helpless and unable to grasp it. During the funeral Mass, the cry of my heart was, “Lord, how could you not break into his darkness? How could he not perceive your love, your embrace?” To outsiders, depression is a baffling and mysterious reality. It is also a serious illness. Ordination to the priesthood does not erase of our human burdens and frailty. Inside the programs at the funeral, was an essay by Fr. Ronald Rollheiser OMI on suicide. It was a tremendously selfless, courageous and generous act on part of his family to be open about the cause of Fr. Kevin’s death.
Now the grand jury report tells us more. It makes you want to weep:
Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, hold our priests close to your heart.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus prayed:
O Jesus, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields;
for your tempted priests;
for your lonely and desolate priests;
for your young priests;
for your dying priests;
for the souls of your priests in purgatory.
But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
the priest who baptized me;
the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way (especially …).
O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity.