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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Matthew A. Rarey | author
Mar 03, 2011
Filed under Chaplains

Former naval officer delights in priesthood

The Tampa Bay chaplain says his story is one of resistance, but also of surrender . . .

Fr. Kenneth Malley

Fr. Kenneth Malley
Tampa Bay Chapter

During his naval service, Fr. Kenneth Malley studied Russian in California. After leaving the service, he entered the seminary, his studies eventually taking him to Rome. Now the Florida native is planted once again in native soil as pastor of a parish near his boyhood home. As a respite from his parish duties, which occupy him more than ever since the parish kicked-off a capital campaign in January, he enjoys serving as chaplain of Legatus’ Tampa Bay Chapter.

Tell me about your call to the priesthood.

My own journey to the priesthood is a story of resistance, but also fortunately a story of surrender. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, and my parents still live in the same house, which is only eight miles away from my current parish (St. Catherine of Siena in Clearwater). I entered the Navy after graduating from high school. My father and my uncle had also served in the Navy, so it was a very easy choice. Later I entered the language program at the Defense Language Institute, learned Russian and served as a linguist from 1984-1988.

After the Navy, I went to college at the University of South Florida. During this time I began to sense the Lord’s beckoning to the priesthood. My own journey is more about resistance and then ultimately towards surrender. I have learned that when I surrender more completely to the will of God, I am able to discover and experience things beyond my wildest imagination.

How did you learn about Legatus?

I was introduced to Legatus by some former parishioners who invited me to one of their gatherings. I was impressed by our local chapter with an incredible group of individuals who had a sincere desire to learn, grow and to serve in the Church.

About two years ago a need arose in the chapter for a new chaplain. At the time my parish was in the process of building a new church. I wasn’t interested in another event to attend. However, I sensed that I was meant to stay with the group, and I was then assigned to the chapter by the bishop.

What appeals to you most about Legatus?

The concept of being an ambassador of faith is attractive to me. In our local group there is a talented group of individuals that I learn a lot from. I often feel that they have more to teach me than I have to teach them. There is always so much more we can learn from each other during our pilgrimage on earth.

What do you enjoy doing for relaxation?

Being born and raised in Florida, the beach has always been a great highlight. I also enjoy kayaking. I did compete in three Florida triathlons, one half-marathon and one full-marathon. However, since I’ve been a pastor I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the training. I still swim regularly and attempt to keep up with some type of training program.

Can you recommend any special devotions?

The devotion to the Infant Jesus has been a gift to me. Some years ago a pastor told me that if you want guidance with your parish finances, ask for the intercession of the Infant Jesus. The journey of faith sometimes seems so complex, but prayer with the Child has brought peace during some complex times. One of the prayers includes these words: “Divine Infant Jesus, I want to give you my hands today. I want to serve you with all my heart and make you known and loved. Doing your will is the source of my inner peace and joy.” This is where I discover peace and joy.


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