Father Colin Kay, Parochial Vicar of The Church of Saint Anne in Fair Lawn, New Jersey and chaplain to Bergen Catholic High School, has been named the Director of Campus Ministry at Seton Hall University. A member of St. Anne's pastoral staff since his ordination in 2005, Fr. Colin's appointment at Seton Hall commences July 1, 2019. "This kid is coming home!" Fr. Colin said. "My mother, just-widowed, moved us into the Ivy Hill Apartments when I was five years old. I spent my whole childhood in, on and around Seton Hall. Growing up, my sister and I would ride our bikes all over — the Arts Center/Carriage House, which we called 'Frankenstein's Castle,' felt like the end of the world. I remember sneaking in to Seton Hall football games (yes, there was a football team) and the cheerleaders throwing tiny blue-and-white balls into the stands. Even the dog, on long walks here and there, spent time at Seton Hall."
Continuing his Pirate Adventure, Father Colin attended Seton Hall Prep back when the high school was still housed in Mooney, Duffy and Stafford Halls on the University campus in South Orange. "After spending my childhood on campus, attending high school here in what felt like my backyard seemed utterly natural. For college, I went into the city to Columbia University, but even then, on weekends I'd often slip onto campus and into the old McLaughlin Library to study. And the chapel, of course, was always a special place to stop in and spend a little time."
Father Colin studied Latin at Columbia, and spent a year abroad at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, before returning to South Orange. "Our welcome to Father Colin Kay as Director of Campus Ministry is truly a 'Welcome Home,' said Interim University President Dr. Mary J. Meehan. "He knows us because he is us. And this appointment is just the next chapter in what has essentially been a Seton Hall life. Marked by service as well as faith, perseverance and a keen sense of caritas and social justice, Fr. Colin lives the spirit of Seton Hall."
After graduating from Columbia Kay walked down to the Armed Forces Recruiting Station. "I felt like I had a debt to pay," he said. Enlisting in the Army, he was sent to basic training at Fort Dix NJ and then Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, GA. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Field Artillery and after airborne training, language school and a number of other specialized trainings, he was assigned to a military unit in Germany.
In 1988 Kay was discharged honorably after four years and came home – to Seton Hall. Here, he started study in the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. After what he describes as "three happy years" (including one in which the men's basketball team played for the National Championship), he left the seminary for monastic life. He spent seven years at the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, a monastery that sits in a valley half way up a mountain called Equinox in Southwestern Vermont. "It was far from 'the world,'" said Father Colin. "Solitude, silence, all-Jesus-all-the-time. It was beautiful, and hard as hell. But it remains to this day probably the key turning point in my life. It was there that I learned how to pray – and how to live. Simple, clean, on-purpose. I don't quite have the hang of it yet, but I haven't quit trying."
In 1999 Kay left the monastery, in part to take care of his mother, who was terminally ill. "So it was back to Ivy Hill and back home again to Seton Hall," he said. After the death of his mother, Kay worked for the University, doing some writing and editing in the Office of the President.
And then it was back to the seminary to complete his studies, graduating from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology in 2004.
Colin Kay was ordained for the Archdiocese of Newark in 2005. After ordination Fr. Colin was assigned to Saint Anne's in Fair Lawn, where he has served these last fourteen years. Fr. Colin said, "I've enjoyed most all of my ministry in the parish, but I'll bet if you asked most anybody at Saint Anne's, they'd probably tell you I've been 'the kids' priest.' One teenage girl, on hearing the news of my leaving, turned to her mom and said, 'But who's gonna take care of the children?'" "Fr. Kay is a very capable and experienced priest who loves God and his people intensely," said Monsignor Anthony Ziccardi, vice president for Mission and Ministry and the secretary designee to the Board of Regents at Seton Hall. "He serves and works well with persons of all ages, especially young people, as his most recent time of pastoral service at Bergen Catholic High School amply demonstrates. God and the Cardinal have been very good to Seton Hall by sending him to us."
Pastor Joseph Doyle of St. Anne's agreed. "St. Anne's loss is Seton Hall's gain," he said. "The idea of losing Father Colin is not one that I relish. But as an alumnus of Seton Hall who taught there for more than a decade and acted as the Spiritual Director of Saint Andrew's, I understand exactly why he has been chosen as Director of Campus Ministry: He is simply perfect for the role. He will bring a down-to-earth, contemporary appreciation of how to be a Christian to young people who are looking for a way to be rooted in Christ."
Since 2015, St. Anne's has "shared" Father Colin with Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell. There he has served as chaplain. Father Colin says that "I've tried to challenge the boys to 'get in the fight,' to join the 'UPrising,' and help build the kind of world Jesus calls us to. It begins with prayer and is lived out in service."
Father Colin plans to continue this call to prayer and "lived-out" service at Seton Hall. He says, "And now, trusting that it's the Lord who's calling me back to South Orange, Hazard Zet Forward." The Seton Hall community extends its sincere gratitude to Father Brian Needles, who has been Director of Campus Ministry since 2016, and has been assigned to Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange.
Categories: Faith and Service