I was raised in a traditional, but not oppressive, Roman Catholic family, and always had an interest in religion as much as science. Around the transition from grade school to high school, I took an interest in New Age topics that brought me through Hindu metaphysics to study Zen Buddhism. In college, I explored “Born Again” Christian theology and started a lifelong journey in Taoism, while outwardly returning to practice the faith of my fathers as a matter of choice.
I was a minister for as long as I can remember. I was the youngest “Renew” program facilitator in the diocese at the age of around 12, awkwardly taking on a leadership role in a group of parents, elderly and even a nun. I served in nearly every position that could be served, from altar server (only a few times, my first being for the Bishop!), lector, commentator, special minister of the Eucharist, and the ministry of music. As a teen, I’ve also assisted running the Summer Bible Program for kids, and was the youngest man to be elected to office (as secretary) in both the parish chapter and regional meetings for the Holy Name Society. A few years later, I represented my parish in the Vicariate program.
For a number of years I taught high school students “faith formation” classes as a level-3-trained catechist, and have been certified for a decade or so with the “Protecting God’s Children” program. My focus was never to indoctrinate, but inform young adults of the faith tradition of their families, sometimes including other traditions for comparison and connection, such as having a friend hold Jewish [[Seder]] with us.
Nicknamed “Father Ken” as a child, I was courted by the Diocesans and Salvatorans to enter seminary. My decision not to was based on my objection to a single vow — obedience. But I was still the one at family events to lead grace, counsel friends on spiritual matters, and when my wife’s aunt died without being on good terms with her parish, I was voted to do the service, being “the closest thing we have to a priest”.
Realizing the need for someone to do such things — with more and more people formally unchurched but in desire for the spiritual and religious ritual — I registered myself with both the Universal Life Church and World Christianship Ministries. This was all that was necessary to officiate weddings and be recognized when the need arises for clergy. After my “self-ordination” (a belief consistent with my notion of a “priestly people”), I even served for years as the chaplain for a veteran’s descendants group.
Since then, I have performed many weddings, as well as funerals, last rites, and memorial services, each according to the desired traditions of those involved. My calling is about three things: Tolerance, Works of Mercy, and Freedom of Mind.