Eulogy for Fr. Paul

It is my opinion you can tell the holiness in a person by the love they show in what they teach you and the durability of what they teach you as an individual and when you are part of a group.

Fr. Paul, born John Michael Kidner, was an exceptionally holy man.

My first lesson from Fr. Paul was in a group called the Priory Cross Country team. We were a reluctant crowd and rightfully so after classes from 8 AM till 3 PM. Who in their right mind would want to then round out the school day with a 3 to 10-mile run across hills and roads?

Fr Paul always insisted we start the gym class with 20 sit-ups, 20 jumping jacks, 20, etc. This discipline of warming up for any exercise or physical work was the pearl for preventing injuries for the rest of our lives. We named it the Fr. Paul 20.

The second time I encountered Fr. Paul was in another group, Math class in the Upper School. The lessons he taught at this time weren’t Algebra, Geometry, or Calculus which became fuzzy or forgotten after the last exam. It was “Enjoy whatever work you do in Life.” That was why he happily persisted in teaching math for greater than 40 years.

“Be prepared”. His lectures were always up to date, organized, and just the right amount of new information per class.

“Know who you are talking to”. From the smartest student to the less interested students, he presented and paced his information so thoroughly that everyone could understand the concepts and logic inherent in the math presented.

“Do the math homework”. The teaching point here was you don’t know anything about what I taught you in class or life until you experience the logic and precision in mathematics and the ups and downs in life.

The third group I learned something from Fr. Paul was on a two-month European tour during the summer of 1970. Fifteen Priory students, Mr. Cook, and Alumnus John Daake were led across Europe for two months by Fr. Paul.

As his Order of St. Benedict rules required, Father needed to say/attend Mass every day. On a rotating basis, he would select a student to go with him to a nearby Catholic church and start and finish Mass in 10-15 minutes.

The only other person that had ever asked this of me was my Mother. I was raised catholic and was required to go to Mass on Sundays and by catholic grade school rules. My Mother taught me it was ok to go anytime. Fr. Paul taught me to want to go to Mass anytime, even daily.

The fourth encounter with Fr. Paul was as his physician. Together we survived deadly congestive heart failure and prostate cancer, and in the end, he succumbed due to rectal cancer due to his radiation.

He always brought his bookbag, full of prior tests, med list, stories about his travels, and his dry sense of humor.

The lesson here, take care of yourself physically and mentally.

I went to Father Paul’s funeral mass. Abbott Gregory gave an excellent eulogy. He was spot on with a description of Fr. Paul as an always happy, innocent, positive-attitude person. I believe Fr. Paul drew upon his understanding of math and engineering. Its symmetry, preciseness, and indeed beauty, gave him an unshakable Faith in God and Jesus’s truth. That is why he could handle stress and problems in a pleasant and successful conclusion.

I shall miss Fr. Paul as much as I miss my parents, Fr Timothy and Fr Luke because these are the people in my past who believed in me to always try to be good and do good.

Thank you, Father Paul.

John Costello, Class of 1971

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