Meeting the Jesuit Scholastics at Regis College: Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly (fourth from the left) poses for a photo with other ISP - Toronto team leaders

Kevin Kelly (fourth from the left) poses for a photo with other ISP – Toronto team leaders.

Kevin was born in Ottawa, Ontario, never thinking he would one day be a Jesuit or be studying to be a priest. After finishing high school and long before entering the Jesuits in 2011, Kevin moved to New York City and attended the Herbert Berghof Studios, a theatre school, in order to be a famous actor. That didn’t work out (but you should ask him about working for a restaurant that catered dinner parties at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s apartment on 5th Avenue). He then studied physiology and vaccinology at the University of Toronto before starting a 12-year career with the pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. While at Merck, he lived in Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, Munich (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland), researching and marketing several different products and vaccines. Many have told him–half-jokingly–that becoming a Jesuit was redemption for a “sinful” life working for a big, bad, multinational company. He sees it very differently: these were invaluable experiences that taught him a lot about people, success, loneliness, work ethic and the struggle of trying to find God active in our world (so very Ignatian!!). Kevin is now a Jesuit Scholastic, back in Toronto, still studying, working to finish his M.Div. at Regis College in the next year. He also has the privilege of working with the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP). ISP is a retreat and community-building program for men and women who are in recovery from addiction and who have experienced homelessness. ISP is a practical theology project, endorsed in Regis College’s strategic plan for 2018-23 and led by several Regis students and alumni/ae.

1) What is one of your favourite parts about studying theology at Regis College?

I love that Regis courses are designed to provide a solid foundation in scripture, history, systematics, moral and pastoral theology while at the same time helping us to apply this knowledge to real life situations.

2) How do you put theological studies into practical application?

I like to distinguish pastoral theology (the approach or way we encounter and serve others) from practical theology (the application of acquired knowledge and our pastoral approach in very concrete ways). ISP is an example of practical theology: learning from those we serve, offering our experience of God to those who are interested, and finding God’s active presence in many of the most vulnerable people in our community, those who feel lost, lonely and abandoned. As with most good practical theological works, those “serving” get far more out of the experience that those being supported.

3) How does this type of work relate to the larger Jesuit mission?

Father General Arturo Sosa, the global leader of the Jesuits, has recently announced the Universal Apostolic Preferences for the Society of Jesus. These preferences are: to show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment; to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice; to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future; and to collaborate in the care of our Common Home. ISP’s activities are on the frontline of these preferences, supporting those whose struggle to find God’s love and care in their lives through an experience of the Spiritual Exercises and the creation of a caring, supportive community.

5) What have you found most valuable about the community at Regis College and why?

I love the mix of students that Regis attracts: different ages, cultural backgrounds, experiences of God, ways of seeing the world, and most important, diversity in approaches to living out our Catholic faith. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis stresses the importance of dialogue, of meeting each person where they are, as a way of helping each of us to grow in understanding, respect and tolerance. The Regis community helps me to do this in very real ways. It is a huge part of my growth as a Christian and in my Jesuit vocation.