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Christendom Mourns the Passing of Beloved Professor Dr. Patrick Keats

July 5, 2019

Dr. Patrick Keats, longtime English professor, producer of the theatrical group the Christendom Players, and former academic dean, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 5, 2019, in his beloved wife Lily’s arms, after receiving Last Rites and the Apostolic Blessing. Keats, a husband, father, lover of literature, movies, and theater, died after a long battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.

“The passing of Pat Keats is a tremendous loss to the entire Christendom community, which he served for so many years with such joy, creativity and love,” says college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, who became president the year Keats was hired at Christendom — 1992. “Our hearts are broken thinking of his beloved wife, Lily, and their two children. May the merciful Heart of Jesus console and strengthen them during this time of loss and may He enfold them all in the tender love of His Heart. Let us all pray for Pat and his family. May he rest in peace.”

Born on September 15, 1951, Keats earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University in 1973, before receiving his M.A. in English at American University in 1977. He brought his love of literature to academia, teaching at the Heights School, a preparatory school for boys in Maryland, before coming to Christendom in 1992 as an Assistant Professor. He earned his Ph.D. in English from the Catholic University of America soon after in 1993.

From the very beginning of his time at the college, Keats was known for his engaging classes and his infectious joy in the classroom and outside of it. He taught students in the core curriculum, particularly enjoying his 101 and 202 classes, while also teaching a variety of upper level courses, including Catholic Literary Revival, Foundations of American Literature, Literary Criticism, and English Romantic Literature.

He was promoted to associate professor in 2000 and was further named academic dean in 2002, a role he would hold until 2013. Keats even taught in Ireland for Christendom, traveling to the island to teach Irish literature to students in the early days before the college’s St. Columcille Institute was officially started. Additionally, Keats taught English to visiting high school students each year for the past 20 years during the college’s Experience Christendom Summer Program, touching the lives of so many through his love of literature.

During the Summer Program, it was not surprising to see Dr. Keats jump into other activities as well — including the weekly dodgeball game.

Outside of the classroom, many students got to know and work with Keats on a deeper level, through one of Keats’ great loves: theater. From the moment he was hired, Keats took a large role in the college’s student-run Christendom Players group, acting as a producer, mentor, consultant, director, and performer during his 27-year tenure at the college. He helped bring 44 individual productions to life (which are listed in full below), ranging from Oscar Wilde, to Shakespeare, to Agatha Christie, to Rodgers and Hammerstein. Thanks to his passion and dedication, the group is now a thriving tradition at Christendom that has grown bigger every year.

Keats produced, directed, and even performed. In 2011, he took on the role of Old Gobbo in “The Merchant of Venice.”

Keats’ greatest accomplishment would come not in the classroom nor on the stage, however. On July 4, 2006, he became engaged to the love of his life: Lily, a civil lawyer and fashion designer from Peru. They shared an incredible life together, with Lily even becoming the coordinator and costume designer for the Christendom Players. Students, faculty, and staff were able to witness their love story as a result and share in it.

Keats and his wife, Lily.

In 2011, the next momentous occasion happened: they were blessed with twins, Robbie and Lucy. Keats gave everything to his children, stepping down as academic dean and further taking a step back from the Christendom Players in later years to devote more time to his family. That love and joy that Keats was known for, that his family cherished, continued to his final days.

Pat and Lily Keats were blessed with twins in 2011.

Keats’ passing is a tremendous loss to his family and to the Christendom community. He impacted countless lives during his time on earth, stretching from the halls of Columbia University all the way to Peru. In everything he did, Keats gave his all, leaving behind a legacy as a result that will never be forgotten amongst all he encountered.

When asked about what he liked most about Christendom, Keats once said: “I love the cheerful inculcation of the life of prayer with pursuit of excellence in academics and extracurricular activities. Christendom works best when faculty, students, and staff pray together, work together, and celebrate together in an atmosphere of charity and good humor.”

May the entire college community honor Keats by praying together, working together, and celebrating together each day going forward. Amen.

Please keep praying for the Keats family. Lily asks for privacy now and to give her time with the twins. As more information on funeral arrangements becomes available, it will be passed on. 

Here is every Christendom Players production Dr. Patrick Keats assisted with during his 27 years at the college. From producing, to directing, to acting, to consulting, Keats is responsible for the growth and success of the fine arts at Christendom:

Spring, 1992: Lady Windermere’s Fan
Spring, 1993: Pride and Prejudice
Spring, 1994: Pygmalion
Spring, 1995: Oliver!
Spring, 1996: Cheaper by the Dozen
Spring, 1997: Witness for the Prosecution
Spring, 1998: Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Spring, 1999: Much Ado About Nothing
Spring, 2000: Mousetrap
Fall, 2000: A Man for All Seasons
Spring, 2001: Harvey
Fall, 2001: Sound of Music – Co-Director
Spring, 2002: Twelfth Night
Fall, 2002: Fiddler on the Roof
Fall, 2003: Our Town
Spring, 2004: Ideal Husband
Fall, 2004: Highlights from Les Miserables, The Crucible, and Others
Spring, 2005: Hamlet
Spring, 2006: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Spring, 2006: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Fall, 2006: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Spring, 2007: You Can’t Take It with You – Asst. Director
Fall, 2007: One Act Plays
Spring, 2008: The Winslow Boy
Fall, 2008: Secret Garden
Spring, 2009: The Woman in White – Co-director
Fall, 2009: Seven Keys to Baldpate – Asst. Director
Spring, 2010: Hello, Dolly!
Fall, 2010: Appointment with Death – Co-Director
Spring, 2011: Merchant of Venice – Also performed as Old Gobbo
Fall, 2011: Room Service – Director
Spring, 2012: Nicholas Nickleby
Fall, 2012: Lady Windermere’s Fan – Director
Fall, 2013: Three Musketeers
Fall, 2014: The Moonstone – Director
Spring, 2015: And Then There Were None – Co-director
Fall, 2015: Father of the Bride
Spring, 2016: Les Miserables
Fall, 2016: The Crucible
Spring, 2017: The Drowsy Chaperone
Fall, 2017: Dracula
Spring, 2018: Damn Yankees
Fall, 2018: An Evening of Shakespeare
Spring, 2019: Anything Goes