Alumni Host Farewell Party for Fr. Keon
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Alumni Host Farewell Party for Fr. Keon
Photo: Fr. KeonFew people can capture the hearts and minds of students on a college campus. The Rev. James Keon, CSB, a retired St. Thomas philosophy professor and beloved Basilian priest, has done this while taking many students with him on his excursions through time. As he takes the next step in his journey, moving back to Canada, join Fr. Keon and the St. Thomas community for a farewell party at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13 at Crooker Café.

An airman in the Canadian air force in WWII, an avid baseball player in the seminary and an icon at UST since 1965, Fr. Keon is the embodiment of educating a campus community in faith and character. He officially retired in 1997, but continued teaching philosophy part time until 2002. He lived in the Basilian residence on campus and could often be caught doing his daily exercise routine, walking the stairs in the Academic Mall.

In a 2010 video celebrating Fr. Keon’s birthday, St. Thomas students honor Fr. Keon as "the coolest priest ever," "a storyteller," "a bright spirit," and someone who takes "a genuine interest in getting to know you."
Video creators Cimela Kidonakis '09 and Darnell Miller '10, a Master in Liberal Arts program student,  also created a shorter  video tribute for the Catholic Company’s Incredible Priests, Incredible Stories essay/video contest. The video was a finalist and garnered more than 2,000 views.
Fr. Keon is not only known for his fun-loving nature and vivid imagination. He also has a knack for revealing his Godly and charming spirit to the St. Thomas community in a way that people, young and old, can relate to.
"He creates an environment where people can laugh, talk and share, and experience the goodness that is in all of us," said the Rev. Mike Buentello, chaplain and director of Campus Ministry.

Born in 1925 in Ontario, Canada, Fr. Keon frequently engages people with a flurry of historical events. Often creating fictitious stories of war, accomplishment and travel, Fr. Keon connects students and staff with his imaginative tales of heroism, which allows them to take a journey through time with him.

"Fr. Keon is a good model of one who is very happy in his priesthood," Fr. Buentello said in the video. "He celebrates the Mass with great reverence. For me, it's like a spiritual retreat every time."

The humor that Fr. Keon is able to weave throughout his thoughtful homilies still rings true with students who continue to retell his stories.
His dedication to spending time at lunch with students in Crooker Café was the catalyst for the University to create Father Keon Days in recent years. On the first Wednesday of every month, this time of fellowship promoted student and faculty/staff interaction while enjoying a meal together.

Fr. Keon will be remembered at St. Thomas for funny anecdotes, interesting lectures and an incredible memory. The farewell party is sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations and fans of Fr. Keon: Cimela Kidonakis , Melissa Kidonakis ’12 and Frances Escriva ’78, ’00. Stop by the Crooker Café on Wednesday evening to wish him well on his next journey.

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