1929 - 2012

Reverend Father Thomas Keller VK9TK, St. Mary's Catholic Mission, Karu, New Ireland, Territory of New Guinea, born 1929 served the church in New Guinea for 16 years 1959-1975. He became a Silent Key in 2012.

Father Thomas Keller was born to Henry and Mary (Glanz) Keller on November 29, 1929, in Napoleon, OH, in the Diocese of Toledo. In 1943 he entered Sacred Heart Minor Seminary in Geneva, IL. In 1948 he began his novitiate in Shelby, OH, making his first profession of the evangelical vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on September 14, 1949. He continued his studies for the priesthood at Sacred Heart Seminary, Shelby, OH, where he made his perpetual profession of the same vows in 1952. He was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend George Rehring, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, on September 17, 1955. After ordination, he was assigned to the overseas foreign missions of the USA Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, in the Territory of Papua, New Guinea. In preparation for his assignment, he enrolled in the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, from 1956-58, at the conclusion of which he received a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law (JCL). In 1959, he began a service of six years as priest-in-charge at St. Mary's Catholic Mission Station, Karu, on the Island of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. He also served as the Judicial Vicar of the newly established Diocese of Kavieng. In 1968, he was assigned as Professor of Moral Theology and Canon Law at De Boismenu College and Seminary, Bomama, Port Moresby, Territory of Papua, New Guinea, eventually serving as its superior and rector. From 1968-1975, he served as pastor of St. Martin's Parish, Namatanai, New Ireland, He had two terms as chairman of the Pastoral Commission of the Diocese of Kavieng, and was rector of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kavieng. His last mission assignment was as pastor at Lorengau on the Island of Manus, in Papua New Guinea. Finally, in 1975, after 16 years in the foreign mission field, he returned to the United States. He became the Director of Planned Giving in the Development Offices at the administrative headquarters of the MSC United States Province in Aurora, IL, and from 1979-1981, he served as the religious superior of the Aurora MSC community. In 1981-1982, he completed a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education course as an intern chaplain at St. Elizabeth Federal Hospital. He was appointed pastor at Holy Cross Parish, Batavia, IL, in the Diocese of Rockford from 1982-1988, when the order discontinued provision of personnel to that parish. Following a sabbatical, he was appointed to the MSC retreat ministry in California which was associated with the MSC community in the Diocese of San Bernardino. In his remaining years in California, he served as a member of the Marriage Tribunal in the Diocese of Orange. Because of ill health he retired in March 2011 to Sacred Heart Villa, Center Valley, PA, where he died on May 11, 2012. Father Keller’s brothers and sisters, Virgil, Donald, Evelyn, and Marcella predeceased him. He is survived by his sister Marie McBroom of Tempe, Arizona.

A Viewing will take place at Sacred Heart Villa, 3300 Station Avenue on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., beginning with a Wake Service at 7 p.m. in the Villa Chapel. Father E. Michael Camilli, MSC, Superior and Rector, will preside. A Funeral Mass will be concelebrated on Thursday, May 17, 2012, at 10 a.m. in the same Chapel. Father Raymond Diesbourg, MSC, Provincial Superior of the United States Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart will preside. Interment will follow in the MSC Section of the St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Ottsville....
Used with the permission of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, U.S.A. Province, Aurora, Illinois 60507.

Tribute courtesy of W5KNE
QSL courtesy of W5KNE and W5YKU