The Road to Priesthood — ‘A sense God was inviting me’
By Becky Berreth
Robert Kinyon was ordained a Transitional Deacon on June 29. He recently spoke with the West River Catholic to discuss his journey thus far.
When did you first think about priesthood?
Deacon Robert Kinyon: Honestly, I could not tell you when I began thinking about becoming a priest. I grew up with a lot of exposure to priests and seminarians which naturally led me to think about that form of life for myself. My readiness and excitement about discerning priestly life waxed and waned throughout different periods of my adolescence, but I always had a sense that God was inviting me to think and pray about it.
What has your seminary experience been?
Deacon Robert Kinyon: On the whole, my seminary experience has been tremendously blessed. While it has not always been enjoyable or easy, it has provided me with wonderful opportunities to become a better man. I am tremendously grateful for the whole experience. Growing closer to God through prayer, study, friendship, and service has opened horizons for me that I otherwise would not have known existed.
What was your pastoral year like?
Deacon Robert Kinyon: The time has been very rich. It’s afforded me with the previously unexperienced opportunities to enter into the life of a parish family and live the entire liturgical year in the midst of Christ’s flock. Almost two years ago, I rather dramatically backed away from what would have been my ordination to the transitional diaconate. As truly blessed as my experience was in school, I knew that I was on the cusp of an enormous lifestyle change which provoked terrible anxiety for me. Yes, I loved praying, learning about God, and living with my friends in seminary, but would I love living and ministering as a priest? Retrospectively, I can see that such rumination was not altogether healthy and lacked a certain confidence in God, but God has been very generous and patient with me. After returning back to the diocese last spring, I wanted to take some more time to discern my calling within the context of a parish environment. It’s been great! The parishes of Hill City and Keystone have provided me with opportunities to fall in love with the many wonderful people that make up our local church. I’ve been touched by the many invitations that I’ve received to enter into people’s lives, and I’ve received many friendships that I really cherish.
How would you describe your prayer life?
Deacon Robert Kinyon: My prayer life, above all, is liturgical. Daily Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours form a foundation around which I’ve inserted a good amount of silence and private devotions. Leading into each morning Mass, I typically observe a lot of silence wherein I simply focus on God’s personal presence. Jesus once said to Teresa of Avila, “Seek yourself in Me.” In many ways, that line has shaped much of my personal prayer. In focusing on Jesus’ gaze of love, I am able to see and accept myself as a beloved son of God. The rosary is also a cherished prayer of mine, and I make a point to pray it each day.
What advice would you give to someone considering the priesthood?
Deacon Robert Kinyon: I would encourage anyone who is considering the priesthood to draw as near as he can to Jesus. In many ways, vocation discernment can’t happen until someone is willing to return his life to God as the gift that it is. Concretely speaking, spending time daily with Jesus in prayer and in friendship with others who are striving for holiness is essential. If you perceive that God might be inviting you to consider the priesthood, talk to Him about it, and talk to other people who love Him about it. These people could include family members, friends, mentors, or priests. If the call persists, it’s worth talking about it to your parish priest.
(Editor’s note: Deacon Kinyon will continue to serve in Hill City and Keystone for another month. He is scheduled to move to Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, on August 21. His ordination to the priesthood is expected to happen sometime this winter.)