An Interview with Father Kevin Duggan, SM

In December of 2020 OLA welcomed Father Kevin Duggan, SM to our parish where he serves our community as Parochial Vicar. Since his arrival, among the frequent comments heard around the parish from his former students are “He was my favorite teacher” and “He married us!” From former students and new friends alike, the common refrains are of Father Kevin’s kindness, gentle manner, willingness to serve, and his wonderful homilies. The parish staff has found him to be a thoughtful listener and sounding board, as well as a great source of humor.

Father Kevin professed vows in the Society of Mary on July 31, 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1986. He comes to us after a lengthy career teaching and working with young adults which you will read about in his answers below.

Instead of sitting down for an interview, Father Kevin was kind enough to type out his responses to a list of questions provided to him. Enjoy!

Why did you become a priest?

I knew lots of sisters, brothers and priests from my home parish in Brooklyn (Our Lady of Angels – OLA). They all seemed filled with joy and very involved in our lives. Their lives were of service to us students, and to many others. The way they lived seemed very attractive to me. I felt drawn to them.

What drew you to the Society of Mary?

I always had a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was born on December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception). My birthday was a connection to Mary that made me think of her as a special person in my life. Our parish was also dedicated to her, and so Mary was a prevalent part of my life growing up. When I encountered the Marist Society of Mary, I felt a distinct connection with them and their spirit.

What did you do before you became a priest?

To be honest, I didn’t have a career (besides being a student) before I entered the Marists. I’m the last of what is called a “lifer.” In other words, I ‘joined’ the Marists at the age of 13 as a freshman in high school. The Marist high school seminary was in Pennsylvania. I’ve been with the Marists pretty much since then. I went to their college seminary and then to the major seminary in Washington DC (Catholic University).

However, during those years I did work during the summers at McDonald’s, as a grounds keeper at my high school, an assistant for a mechanical contractor during the summers of my college years, and a dish washer for a restaurant.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a priest?

The most rewarding thing I’ve done as a priest is working with so many wonderful young college and high school students. I’ve worked with young people in Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and California. A good number of the college students I have worked with have asked me to help them get ready for the sacrament of marriage and those weddings and relationships have meant a great deal to me.

Celebrating my mother’s funeral this past June was challenging, but very rewarding. I was grateful that Fr. John was there to be my ‘wing man.’

What is the most rewarding part of being a priest?

Being present to people (young or old) at important moments of their life (accomplishments, challenges, sicknesses, etc.) has been extraordinary. People have shared their hearts and souls with me over the years and that TRUST given to me has been a true blessing. Of course, leading the community in prayer, especially the Mass has been something that stands out. I can’t imagine a more meaningful life. I have no kids, yet I have thousands of kids!

What has been your favorite ministry so far?

My first years at Marist School as a teacher and Campus Ministry were extraordinary. Those years really prepared me to work with college students in Texas, and California. But to be honest, the ministry at the Newman Center in San Luis Obispo, CA was a favorite. The location was ideal. Who doesn’t want to live in Central Coast

California wine country? The Pacific Ocean was ten minutes away.

The scenery alone was out of this world. Adding to the mix -- our students were sincere in wanting to come to know Jesus more fully and they loved going to Mass. In many ways, it was an ideal ministry.

What’s your favorite movie?

My favorite movies were the original Star War series. It depicts the constant struggle between good and evil.

Any special hobbies or interests?

I don’t have any real hobbies aside from jogging and walking. I also enjoy reading novels – mostly mysteries.

What do priests do on their day off?

The answer to this question depends on the priest. On my day off, I like to simply relax. I am pretty much a homebody. Sleeping a little later that 5:15am is always a plus on a day off. I also do my personal chores on my day off. Laundry!!

What do you want the people of OLA to know?

I’m glad to be here with you. I hope that I can be of service and walk the journey of life with you.

What is the most important thing for you about being a Marist?

Being Marist for me means trying to be Mary’s quiet presence in the world and trying to bring Jesus to those I encounter. We use the phrase ‘to think, to feel, to judge, and to act as Mary in all things.’ This is a daily goal. Some days I do better than others. It is also important for me to witness a life of prayer and communal living as a Marist religious to what ever community I am ministering in.

Since Father Kevin has joined us at OLA, that quiet, gentle presence in imitation of Mary has become evident to all who are fortunate enough to interact with him. Thank you, Father Kevin, for drawing us closer to Him through the Spirit of Mary.


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