It will be a homecoming for Father Ken Deasy on Sept. 30, when a grand celebration of the 30th anniversary of his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest is held in La Cañada.
Father Ken, as many call him, will say mass at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church at 5:30 p.m. that day. The mass will be co-celebrated by the pastor of St. Bede, Rev. Msgr. Antonio Cacciapuoti, and Father Tony Marti OFM Cap, president of St. Francis High School. The renowned St. Agatha Gospel Choir will raise the roof and praise the Lord.
For Father Ken, it is a true homecoming, because he spent his formative years here and St. Bede Church was where he said his first mass after his ordination.
Following the mass there will be a dinner/fundraiser across the street from the church, in the courtyard of St. Francis High School, Deasy's alma mater.
The dinner event is sponsored by Father Ken's Vineyard, a nonprofit corporation organized by Deasy's eighth-grade classmates. The dinner is $100 per person and ticket information can be found online at Fatherken.org.
Father Ken's family came to La Cañada and he started attending St. Bede School in September 1965. "Kenny," as he was called, was a Boy Scout, played La Cañada Little League and served as an altar boy. He graduated from St. Bede in 1968 and then attended St Francis High School. After his graduation from St. Francis, he studied as a Franciscan and finished his preparation for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary in Camarillo. He was ordained as a Diocesan priest in 1987.
Father Ken remains a familiar face around town. He has returned to LCF to say mass at St. Bede and attend fundraisers not only at St. Francis but also Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
This home-grown priest ministered to the poor with great empathy during his 10 years at St. Agatha Church in downtown Los Angeles. He revived the impoverished parish, reopened a school, founded Camp Good in the Hood and incorporated Gospel music in the mass. Today, Father Ken helps the needy in the greater Los Angeles area and continues his spiritual and physical relief work internationally. His grade school classmates formed Father Ken's Vineyard to support those efforts.
Our good priest is no stranger to film and TV, acting as a story advisor for the movie "Bruce Almighty," as well as serving as mentor/advisor and "point of focus" for ABC's "Nothing Sacred." He has also made appearances on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show," "Tyra Banks Show" and the "Steve Harvey Show."
His sisters Terry Deasy, Veronica Deasy Goodrich and Colleen Deasy Hurtz will be among those celebrating this milestone for Father Ken.
I just blew in with the wind, so to speak. I returned a few days ago from South Carolina, where I experienced my first hurricane, the infamous Irma.
I was visiting with former La Cañadans Doug and Julia Wilson, who live in Georgetown, about an hour away from Charleston.
They live in a beautiful beach colony called DeBordieu, which locals say was given its name by Gen. LaFayette in the 1700s. It is a paradise of wide, uncluttered beaches and sand dunes, quiet marshes, lush green golf courses and mansion-sized homes.
When I arrived, Hurricane Irma was churning in the ocean and was said to be headed for the Carolinas. Many residents were choosing not to stay and were packing up to leave for safer ground.
Their home on higher ground, the Wilsons decided to "hunker down" and ride it out. They seemed to be pretty calm about it, but I was a nervous wreck.
The Friday before the storm was expected to hit on Monday, Julia and I headed for Charleston for a look-see around. This was my second time visiting this charming city, but it was a different scenario this time because of the approaching storm. Many of the stores and homes were boarded up for protection.
It was somewhat like a ghost town without the usual crowds and no traffic.
I had just finished reading an amazing book, "The Invention of Wings," written by South Carolina author Sue Monk Kidd.
The well researched historical novel is set in Charleston in the early 1800s and is about the real life slave-owning family of John Grimké, a judge active in South Carolina politics.
The main characters of the book are John's daughter Sarah Grimké, her personal slave, Hetty, and Sarah's younger sister Angelina.
Sarah and Angelina came to abhor slavery. They left Charleston to become the first American female advocates of abolition and women's rights. They were powerful and insightful writers, orators, and educators in the Northern states.
I was so entranced with the book and its Charleston setting, I went online and found a specialized tour concentrating on the life of these sisters. The tour is called The Grimké Sisters Tour and was designed by Carol Ezell Gilson and Lee Ann Bain.
Gilson met Julia and me at the library society building and for the next two hours she showed us the homes Sarah and Angelina they lived in, the churches they went to, the school they attended and the place of their debutante introduction to society. She even showed us where the slave "workhouse" was once located. I came to respect the courage of these amazing women and their mission on such a more intimate level.
Another "low country" site to see in the Georgetown vicinity that certainly has Southern California roots was Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington's magnificent botanical and sculpture garden, known as "Brookgreen."
A great philanthropist, Archer Milton Huntington was the son of Arabella Huntington and the adopted son of railroad magnet Collis P. Huntington. In his youth, Archer spent much time in the San Marino mansion and gardens that we know as Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Archer's wife, Anna Hyatt, was a well-known New York sculptor and the creation of the South Carolina garden was a perfect place to showcase her art. Other sculptor's pieces are also placed throughout the gardens and complement Anna's work.