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On July 19, hundreds of family, friends, and alumni of Christendom College gathered to attend the solemn funeral Mass of Dr. Patrick Keats, beloved professor, husband, and father. Dr. Keats, who served at Christendom for nearly 30 years and was its chief promoter of the fine arts, died in a battle with cancer on July 5, leaving behind his wife, Lily, and their two children, Lucy and Robbie.

People traveled from across the United States to attend Keats’ funeral including alumni priests — some of whom studied under Dr. Keats — who concelebrated the Mass with Christendom’s head chaplain, Fr. Marcus Pollard.

“How absolutely lucky we are to have received the gift of faith that enables us to celebrate with sorrowful joy Patrick’s victory and to embrace the truths of today’s liturgy that give substance to this victory,” said Fr. Pollard, reading the homily of Keats’ spiritual director, Fr. Larry Kutz, who was not able to celebrate the Mass. “He was captured by the full-fledged call to put God in the center of his life and to follow him in a life of prayer and work and friendship, in a quest to sanctify daily, ordinary life centered on family, and a secular work carried out with vigor and passion for the glory of God and the wellbeing of his fellow human beings.”

Fr. Pollard added his own thoughts on Keats’ character, particularly his constant investment in the formation of people, whether it was his students, his friends, or his family. Even while suffering in the hospital, he expressed such gratitude for those helping him and for all those visiting him — a testament to the incredible character that stayed with him to the last moments of his life.

View the entire homily here

“Speaking to students about Dr. Keats, there was one phrase that was said that summed it all up: ‘he taught the students even more than he taught the curriculum.’ He was so focused on each individual. We need to pray for the repose of his soul, that we might eventually join him on the superhighway to Heaven,” concluded Fr. Pollard.

After the Mass, college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell delivered Keats’ eulogy.

“Patrick Henry Keats: what can one say at a time like this? So many have been touched deeply by this gentle man of joy, creativity, and of love, which all sprang from the depth of his Catholic soul,” said O’Donnell. “Pat was a great teacher and always brought joy, creativity, and love to the classroom. He deeply loved his students.”

View Dr. O’Donnell’s Eulogy here

O’Donnell shared many memories of Dr. Keats, from hiring him in 1992 (his first hire as college president), to traveling with him to Ireland, to working with him for nearly thirty years, both in the classroom and outside of it.

“Let us recall the countless hours, the teaching, the listening, the coaching, the guiding, the encouragement, that is all, of course, the language of love. It was love that motivated and guided Pat, helping each student be the best that they could be. His passing is an enormous loss for all of us, but what a legacy he leaves us. A legacy of joy, of creativity, and of love,” said O’Donnell.

Following O’Donnell’s eulogy, Keats’ wife, Lily, delivered some final remarks. She filled the congregation with joy, laughter, and deep sorrow as she related the story of her and her husband’s life together, before saying goodbye to her husband and the father of her children.

View Lily Keats’ Eulogy here

“God bless all of you, all in this community,” said Keats. “And Patrick, I just want to say, in front of all your friends here, I love you. You will be here, always in my heart. In this very moment, I can see you in front of me. You are happy, you are healthy, you are young again, and you have someone who loves you more than me. Rest in peace, my love.”

Lily Keats, family, and a few friends privately buried Keats at Good Hope Cemetery following the funeral Mass, before returning to campus for a reception in the St. Lawrence Commons. There, actors from across Keats’ years of Christendom productions gathered again to pay tribute to the man who inspired them, on and off the stage, through performances from musicals that Keats produced. Each performance provided a testament to just how much Keats accomplished at Christendom, leaving behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.

Whenever alumni, family, or friends are in Front Royal, Virginia, they are encouraged to visit Keats’ grave in Good Hope Cemetery, to thank him for all he did for Christendom and for the world at large. As Dr. Warren Carroll once said, “one man can make a difference.” Dr. Patrick Keats did just that, changing so many lives — students, friends, and most of all, Lily and his twins, Robbie and Lucy — for the better, forever.

View photos from the Wake, Funeral, and Reception here.

Videos from the reception, produced by Mirandum Pictures, will be available at a later date.

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