A classmate reflects on the loss of Father Kevin Kayda

When I heard the news, I immediately recognized the name. Kevin Kayda had been on the list of newly assigned priests I received via email over the summer.

He stood out to me because he was from Carlisle. And now, just a couple months later, Kayda was dead. To say it was a shock doesn’t do justice to the news.

christI didn’t know him at all, but Carlisle isn’t that big and I’ve lived here 15 years now. I knew someone who knew someone who knew him. I looked at his picture thinking that Kevin was a big guy. Maybe he was stricken by a heart issue?

But the truth was even more tragic: Kayda committed suicide. That led to a discussion I had recently about mental health issues. What resources are available for those within the church who are fighting depression? Is it talked about? Is there awareness and encouragement to seek help?

These are all issues I hope to explore further in future stories. Last year, I did this story about how churches deal with mental illness.

Kayda’s family approved the diocese discussing his cause of death in the hopes it will help someone else. If so, maybe some good can come from this tragic situation.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post from a classmate of Kevin’s. It provides a peek into the life of a young priest and how a close-knit group dealt with the sad news. Here is an excerpt:

On Saturday we got the official notice, that Fr. Kevin had taken his own life. It was like a sucker punch to the gut, even though some of us had suspected this.

Kevin was a quiet guy: shy and introverted, but far from being a loner. I remember the first time I talked to him, at dinner in the seminary dining room, in my first year of theology. He had transferred to the Mount from St. Vincent’s seminary, and from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, to his home diocese of Harrisburg. He was not a part of my circle of close friends. We talked regularly, however; he hung out with us, watched movies, went out to meals in Gettysburg and Frederick, shared frustrations and joys.

Read the rest here.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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