January 11, 2019

Father Kenneth Taylor was a ‘humble’ leader in the local, national black Catholic community

By Sean Gallagher

Father Kenneth TaylorFather Kenneth Taylor, pastor of Holy Angels and St. Rita parishes, both in Indianapolis, died on Dec. 19, 2018, at St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis. He was 67.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Dec. 28 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Josephite Father Anthony Bozeman, pastor of St. Raymond and St. Leo the Great Parish in New Orleans, was the homilist.

Burial followed in the priests’ circle at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Father Taylor, widely known as “Father K.T.,” was dedicated to parish ministry throughout his 40 years of priestly life and ministry. During that time, he also worked hard to build up the faith of various ethnic communities in the Church in central and southern Indiana, serving as the first director of the archdiocesan Intercultural Ministry office from 1996‑2012.

He was honored for his leadership there in 2014, and reflected on the transition the Church was going through when the office was formed.

“The direction I focused on was to have the diversity in the [arch]diocese become more visible, getting the different groups to become more of an active part of the archdiocese and, over time, I think we accomplished a lot in that direction,” Father Taylor said in 2014.

He was a leader in the black Catholic community on both the archdiocesan and national levels, serving as the president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) since his election to that office in 2012.

Bishop Joseph N. Perry, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Chicago, knew Father Taylor from the early 1970s when both were seminarians and involved in the NBCCC. Bishop Perry described him as “a gentle soul and compassionate priest in his ministry.”

“Humble, fervent and faithful, he was highly respected by priests and laity in the Church’s vineyard,” Bishop Perry said.

Resurrectionist Father Manuel Williams, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Montgomery, Ala., had also known Father Taylor for decades through the NBCCC, calling him a “bridge builder” in the organization.

“Father K.T. was one of the individuals who was universally loved and respected by the deacons, the religious women, the priests, the brothers and the lay people,” Father Manuel said. “His gentle spirit and just basic goodness always endeared him to people.”

That included the members of St. Rita Parish and Holy Angels Parish, the faith community in which Father Taylor grew up, said St. Joseph Sister Gail Trippett, pastoral associate at Holy Angels at the time of his death.

“Father K.T. was a priest who was dedicated to his priestly mission, both to people in his parishes and not in his parishes,” she said. “He would be called at a minute’s notice to minister to the sick in a hospital and people around the city. No matter where he was or what he was doing or the tasks that he had scheduled that day, he would always take time to minister to the sick.”

Charles Guynn, a member of St. Rita Parish, knew Father Taylor for more than 40 years.

“For as long as I knew Father [Taylor], he was a fighter and a person of great faith,” Guynn said. “He liked to negotiate problems for the common good. He will be missed by all that knew him.”

Father Nicholas Dant, pastor of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, also knew Father Taylor for more than 40 years. They were seminarians for eight years together at the former Latin School of Indianapolis, an archdiocesan high school seminary, and at the former Saint Meinrad College in St. Meinrad.

“His leadership on the national level bespeaks of his leadership on the local level,” Father Dant said. “He was never afraid to speak up and lead, offering suggestions of directions we can take.

“He was very interested in helping Catholic communities remain strong, especially in the inner city and in the poverty-stricken areas that he served all of his life.”

Kenneth Edward Taylor was born on July 10, 1951, in Indianapolis to the late Alvin and Margaret Mary Taylor.

After graduating from Holy Angels School in Indianapolis, he became an archdiocesan seminarian, receiving priestly formation at the Latin School, Saint Meinrad College and at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.

Father Taylor was ordained a priest on May 20, 1979, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral by Archbishop George J. Biskup. His first pastoral assignment was as associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, where he served from 1978-83.

He then ministered as associate pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis from 1983-85. During that time, he also served as chaplain of the Newman Center at Butler University in Indianapolis from 1984-85.

Father Taylor ministered as pastor of the former Holy Trinity Parish in Indianapolis from 1985-2004.

During that time, he also served as the administrator and then pastor of the former St. Bridget Parish in Indianapolis from 1992 until the faith community’s closure in 1994.

He also served as chaplain for the Newman Center at Indiana University‑Purdue University Indianapolis in 1993-94.

In 1996, Father Taylor was appointed as the director of what was then the archdiocesan Multicultural Ministry office, now the Intercultural Ministry office. He served in this position until 2012.

He served as pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis from 2004-2006.

During that time, in 2005, he was appointed temporary administrator of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis. He became the pastor of the faith community a year later and led Holy Angels until his death.

While ministering as Holy Angel’s pastor, Father Taylor also served as dean of the Indianapolis West Deanery from 2009-12, and as pastor of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis from 2014 until his death.

Surviving are his siblings Angela Taylor of Atlanta, LaVerne and Renee Taylor and V. Carol Taylor-Smith, all of Columbus, Ohio, and Alvin Taylor of Newark, Ohio.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Holy Angels Building Fund, 740 W. 28th St., Indianapolis, IN 46208.
 

(Criterion reporter Natalie Hoefer contributed to this article.)

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