“This is how men should see us—as servants of Christ and bearers of the mysteries of God.”—St. Paul
From the invitation to Father Ken Keller’s ordination to the priesthood, May 30, 1969
Father Ken Keller, who served the Diocese of Amarillo for nearly 49 years, passed away March 1 after a brief illness. He was 74 years old.
Vigil will be 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1200 S. Washington, Amarillo, Texas 79102. Funeral Mass will be 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at St. Mary’s Cathedral with the Priests of the Catholic Diocese of Amarillo as concelebrants. Burial will follow in Llano Cemetery. Arrangements are by Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 S. Georgia, Amarillo, Texas 79110.
Kenneth Valentine Keller was born May 6, 1943, one of four sons born to Marie and Ted Keller. His grandmother, Zita C. Keller, was one of the early parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral. After attending St. Mary’s Academy (now St. Mary’s Cathedral School), Father Keller graduated from Price Memorial College (now Holy Cross Catholic Academy) in 1961. He gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Thomas Seminary College of Denver in 1965 and studied theology at Conception Seminary in Missouri.
Ordained to the priesthood on May 30, 1969 at St. Laurence Church by then-Bishop Lawrence M. DeFalco, Father Keller was assigned to St. Mary’s Church (now St. Mary’s Cathedral) as parochial vicar. In 1972, he was named Diocesan Youth Director and in 1980, was named director of the diocesan Christian Formation Office.
In June 1981, Father Keller was assigned to Loyola University in Chicago, where a year later, he was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Adult Education and was transferred to Lubbock, where he attended Texas Tech University for post-graduate work in Family Studies. While in Lubbock, he served at Christ the King Cathedral and Sacred Heart Church, Plainview.
On July 7, 1986, Father Keller returned to the Diocese of Amarillo and resumed ministering to youth and families while serving as a Family Crises Counselor at Catholic Family Service (now Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle). In 1987, he was appointed diocesan director of the RENEW program.
On Sept. 1, 1988, Father Keller was named pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, where he served until June 30, 1990, when he was appointed director of the diocesan Christian Formation Office and as Diocesan Youth Coordinator.
On July 1, 1992, Father Keller was appointed parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Church (now St. Mary’s Cathedral). At the same time he served as coordinator of diocesan family and youth ministry and social concerns, with continued service on the board of directors of Morning Star Hostel and Mark Schupp Center and on the coalition of Catholic Social Services.
Father Keller continued to work with the homeless, with families with addiction problems and with homeless people who have terminal illness. In Feb. 2000, he accepted the additional responsibility as chairman of the Christian Campaign for the Homeless.
In 2001, Father Keller was accepted at Fordham University, where he went on to receive a second Master’s Degree in Sociology in 2003. Later that year, on June 30, he was appointed parochial administrator of Immaculate Conception Church, Dimmitt and St. Ann’s Church, Bovina, where he remained until his appointment on Nov. 26 as pastor of Holy Family Church, Nazareth, where he remained until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2017.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Gary Keller and Robert Keller; and nephews, Tom Keller and Terry Keller.
Father Keller is survived by one brother, Ted Keller and wife Marie of Delaware; a sister-in-law, Ruth Ann Keller of Houston; nieces and nephews, Teresa, Ken, Christopher, Angela, Steven, Tim and Larmie; longtime friend and caregiver, Joe Salazar; and other extended family and friends.