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Christendom professor, Patrick Keats, dies at 67

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Patrick Keats, longtime English professor, producer of the theatrical group the Christendom Players, and former academic dean at Christendom College in Front Royal, died July 5 after a battle with cancer. He was 67.

The wake service will be held at Christendom in the crypt of Christ the King Chapel from 6-9 p.m. July 18. The Mass of Christian Burial will be July 19 at 11 a.m. in  Christ the King Chapel. The Mass will also be live-streamed online. A reception will be held in the college’s St. Lawrence Commons immediately following the Mass.

“The passing of Pat Keats is a tremendous loss to the entire Christendom community, which he served for so many years with such joy, creativity and love,” said President Timothy O’Donnell, who became president the year Keats was hired in 1992. “Our hearts are broken thinking of his beloved wife, Lily, and their two children. May the merciful Heart of Jesus console and strengthen them during this time of loss and may he enfold them all in the tender love of his Heart. Let us all pray for Pat and his family. May he rest in peace.”

Keats was born Sept. 15, 1951. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University in 1973, before earning his master’s in English at American University in 1977.

He taught at The Heights School in Potomac, Md., before coming to Christendom in 1992 as an assistant professor. He earned his doctorate in English from The Catholic University of America in Washington in 1993.

Keats taught classes in the core curriculum, as well as upper level courses, including Catholic Literary Revival, Foundations of American Literature, Literary Criticism and English Romantic Literature. He was promoted to associate professor in 2000 and named academic dean in 2002, a role he held until 2013. Keats taught Irish literature in Ireland for Christendom in the early days before the college’s St. Columcille Institute officially started.

He taught English to visiting high school students each year for the past 20 years during the college’s Experience Christendom Summer Program.

In addition to teaching, Keats took a large role in the college’s student-run Christendom Players group. He was a producer, mentor, consultant, director and performer during his 27-year tenure at the college. He helped bring 44 individual productions to life, ranging from Oscar Wilde to Shakespeare to Rodgers and Hammerstein. In 2011, he took on the role of Old Gobbo in “The Merchant of Venice.” His wife, Lily, was the coordinator and costume designer for the Christendom Players.

When asked about what he liked most about Christendom, Keats once said: “I love the cheerful inculcation of the life of prayer with pursuit of excellence in academics and extracurricular activities. Christendom works best when faculty, students, and staff pray together, work together, and celebrate together in an atmosphere of charity and good humor.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019