KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Quincy native Kevin Thomas Drew, 46, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri by Bishop Robert W. Finn on May 19 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. He was one of six men ordained that day; a member of the largest class ordained for that diocese since 1967.
The son of Virginia and the late John T. Drew, Father Drew also has two uncles who are retired priests of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. Father Carl Schmidt and Father Anthony Schmidt are Virginia Drew's brothers. Father Henry Schmidt, another diocesan priest, is an older cousin.
"Growing up and attending reunions and family gatherings it was a regular thing to have priests around," Father Drew says. "In 1998, after my father's funeral, one of them, Uncle Anthony, put his Roman collar and jacket on me and someone took a picture. I thought at the time, 'What is he up to?'
"My cousin Brad was watching and he laughed, 'If there is anyone in the building who should not be a priest, it is you!' We laughed, but he was right. I don't deserve to be a priest. No one does, but God calls who he wills. In my case the vessel is clay, not gold, and God has formed me to be specially configured to his son. Both my uncles' witness and presence, not to mention their kindness, has been very influential.
"On my dad's side, the Drews also enter the equation," Father Drew says. "Three brothers from Ireland entered the port of New Orleans in 1842. One of them was a Catholic priest, John Allen Drew. He started the first Catholic Church in Kickapoo, in what is now the Peoria diocese. Later he disappeared without a trace.
"The romantic in me likes to think he was killed by Nativists leading up to the American Civil War. No one knows," he says. "At any rate, I'm the first Drew in our family to become a priest since him. My dad's older brother and sister and Dad's sister-in-law came to KC to witness the special event."
Father Drew's ordination was well-attended, says his mother. "All eight of his siblings and their families came as well as most of my siblings," says Virginia. "So we had people from Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Mississippi and Alabama there. It was quite a day."
Father Drew graduated from St. Peter Grade School and Quincy Notre Dame High School. He went on to Northern Illinois University on a Division One soccer scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. In the years leading up to the seminary, he was the bottled water manager for a million dollar division of one of the largest Culligan dealers in the United States. He studied philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut and theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
Father Drew celebrated his first Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Kansas City. At that Mass Father Drew used a chalice that had once belonged to a family friend and diocesan priest, the late Msgr. Casimir Toliusus. "Msgr. Toliusus left the chalice to my brother, Father Carl, and then he gave the chalice to my son, Father Drew," says Virginia. His two priest uncles and another mentor, Msgr. William J. Blacet concelebrated.
"Msgr. Blacet has been a gentle guiding hand and a true spiritual father for me this past decade," Father Drew says. "The priestly life, like any vocation, isn't always about solving problems, but enduring them, and persevering through them by offering them to Christ."
Over Memorial Day weekend, Father Drew celebrated a Mass in Latin at St. Rose of Lima Church in Quincy. On Saturday, June 9 he will celebrate 5 p.m. Mass in his home parish of St. Peter. That evening the parish will hold a reception in his honor.
A few days later he will report to St. Therese Parish in Kansas City, where he'll serve as an associate pastor for a large parish of 3,500 families. He first weekend there will be June 16-17.