Even as a young boy, Roy Kiggins had no doubt about what he wanted to do with his life.
“I just had the desire to be a priest,” he told the Catholic Courier. “At the age most kids wanted to be firemen or policemen, I wanted to be a priest.”
That desire never left the young man, who was ordained in 1964. In fact, he said that desire is still just as strong today as it ever was. As the new year begins, however, so does a new phase in Father Kiggins’ priestly life. He will retire from his current pastorate at Our Lady of Peace Parish on Dec. 31, but his ministry is far from over.
“I’m moving over to Seneca Falls. I’m going to live in St. Patrick’s rectory and do pastoral work at the behest of the pastor, Father James Fennessy,” he said.
This arrangement will represent something of a role reversal for the two priests. Waterloo native Father Fennessy spent the first five years after his 2002 ordination serving as priest intern and then parochial vicar for the two parishes of the Roman Catholic Community of Geneva, which merged to form Our Lady of Peace Parish in 2007. In June of that year Father Fennessy became pastor of St. Patrick Parish and St. Mary Parish in Waterloo.
Father Kiggins suspects it may be hard for him initially to adjust to not calling all the shots anymore.
“The biggest thing will be trying to keep my mouth shut,” he remarked.
A Rochester native, Father Kiggins attended several parishes while he was growing up, but spent much time at St. James Parish in Irondequoit. He attended St. Salome School in Irondequoit and St. Augustine and St. Ambrose schools in Rochester before graduating from the eighth grade at St. James School and entering Rochester’s St. Andrew’s Junior Seminary.
“I was what you call a lifer,” he said. “I went into the seminary system in high school and went right on through to ordination.”
After spending six years at St. Andrew’s, Father Kiggins moved on to another six years at St. Bernard’s Seminary and was ordained June 6, 1964, by Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence B. Casey at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father Kiggins briefly served as assistant pastor at St. John of Rochester Parish in Fairport before being transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Elmira, where he served as assistant pastor for seven years.
In 1971 Father Kiggins left the Elmira parish to become assistant pastor at Good Shepherd Parish in Henrietta, where he served until 1972, when he became assistant pastor at St. Mary Parish in Canandaigua. In 1973 he returned to Good Shepherd, this time as copastor, and served in that capacity until 1987.
Father Kiggins became pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brockport in 1987 and remained there until 1999. After returning from a sabbatical in El Salvador where he worked on his Spanish, Father Kiggins became pastor of the Geneva parishes in January 2000.
Although his priesthood has spanned 44 years thus far, Father Kiggins said he remains in awe of the priestly privilege of being able to bring Christ to people in the Eucharist.
“Taking it to people has been a really key piece. I’ve told people that when I die I want to have a pyx in my hands instead of a rosary,” he said.
Our Lady of Peace Parish celebrated Father Kiggins’ retirement with a reception at the parish center Dec. 28.