Obit - Rev. Basil Michael Keenan, O.S.B
Rev. Basil Michael Keenan, O.S.B.
March 6, 1940 – February 22, 2017
Profession of Vows: June 24, 1961
Ordination to Priesthood: May 27, 1967
Rev. Basil Michael Keenan, O.S.B., monk of St. Gregory’s Abbey, entered eternal life strengthened by the sacraments of the Church on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. He was 77 years of age, had been a monk for 55 years and priest for 49 years.
Fr. Basil was born on March 6, 1940. He was adopted as an infant along with his twin sister Patricia through Catholic Charities by Joseph and Helen (Doherty) Keenan. Raised in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral Parish in Oklahoma City, he attended John Carroll School, Catholic High School and graduated from St. Gregory’s High School in 1957. After two years of study as a National Merit Scholar at St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, KS, he entered the novitiate at St. Gregory’s Abbey in June 1960. He professed vows as a monk of St. Gregory’s Abbey on June 24, 1961.
After his profession of vows, Fr. Basil returned to St. Benedict’s College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Math in 1963, graduating summa cum laude. He completed theological studies at St. Gregory’s Abbey and was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1967. Following ordination, Fr. Basil pursued a Masters in Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, completing the degree in 1969.
Fr. Basil served in both the educational and pastoral ministries of the Abbey. He served at various times between 1974 and 1990 as an instructor of math, chemistry and Spanish at St. Gregory’s College. Occasionally he fulfilled teaching responsibilities while residing away from the monastery on pastoral assignments. His pastoral assignments included: Associate Pastor, St. Benedict Parish, Montebello, CA (1968); Associate Pastor, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, East Los Angeles, CA (1971-1974); Pastor, St. Stephen Parish, Holdenville, OK (1976-1979); Associate Pastor, Assumption of Mary Parish, Duncan, OK, (1989); Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Coalgate, OK, with Our Lady of Good Counsel Mission in Lehigh, OK, and St. Patrick Mission, Atoka, OK (1990-1991); Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Tulsa, OK (1991-1992); Pastor, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Tulsa, OK (1992-1996); Pastoral Associate, St. Benedict Parish, Shawnee, OK and Immaculate Conception Parish, Seminole, OK (1996); Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Seminole, OK, with St. Cecilia Mission, Maude, OK, and St. Joseph Mission, Wewoka, OK (1997-2012); Assisting Priest, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Guymon, OK, with St. Francis Cabrini Mission, Bison, OK, and Church of the Good Shepherd Mission, Boise City, OK (2013); Administrator, St. Joseph Parish, Muskogee, OK (2015-2016); Administrator, St. Paul Parish, Eufala, OK (2016); and Pastoral Associate, St. Thomas More Parish, Tulsa, OK (2016).
Along with teaching and parochial assignments, Fr. Basil served the monastic community and the broader public in various other ways. He served in the monastery as sacristan, cantor, guest master and barber. In 1979, Fr. Basil was appointed to serve for three years on the Oklahoma Archdiocesan Commission for Hispanic Affairs, Inc. For several years Fr. Basil was also active with the Cursillo movement, assisting with both English and Spanish language cursillos. From 2010 to the time of his death, Fr. Basil served as a priest chaplain at John H. Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, OK, offering Mass and other sacraments to the inmates. Whenever he was in residence at the monastery, Fr. Basil was eager to provide weekend supply ministry in parishes across the State of Oklahoma.
Fr. Basil had a great love for Gregorian Chant, which he first learned to sing as a boy in the parish choir at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral. He strongly advocated retention of chant in the revision of the Divine Office at the Abbey following the Second Vatican Council. He similarly was passionate about languages, especially Latin and Spanish. He found great delight in making connections between the Romance Languages and their origins in Latin.
Although he was not comfortable in crowds, he was an effective teacher and homilist. He was devoted to the teaching of the Church on theological and moral issues, while at the same time guiding those in his care with compassion, especially immigrants in difficult circumstances and prisoners. He enjoyed conversation with confreres and friends, “corny” jokes, and the welcome he received from several families. Fr. Basil led a very frugal life, giving a strong witness to monastic simplicity.
Fr. Basil died unexpectedly on February 22, 2017, from a brief acute illness. He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Patricia Keenan Ingraham. He is survived by the monks of St. Gregory’s Abbey, and many former students, parishioners and friends.
Vigil for the Deceased was prayed in the Abbey Church on Sunday, February 26. Mass for Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, February 27, and interment followed in the Abbey Cemetery. In your charity, please pray for the peaceful repose of Fr. Basil, and for the monks of St. Gregory’s Abbey. Memorial gifts may be made to the St. Gregory’s Abbey Infirmary Fund, 1900 W. MacArthur, Shawnee, OK 74804.