Diocese welcomes home new pastor

Mar 15, 2024
Father Ken Gill, center, pledges his Oath of Incardination to the Diocese of Orlando by Bishop Noonan, to his right, and Chancellor of Canonical Affairs Father John Giel, far right. Far left is Father John Britto, CSC, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Viera and long-time friend, Father Ivan Olmo, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Altamonte Springs. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

ORLANDO | When Father Kenneth Gill was young, he considered a vocation to the priesthood. Although years passed between his early musing and true discernment that led him to the seminary, he said his incardination into the Diocese of Orlando, March 13, is a coming home “to the diocese of my birth.”

Father Gill’s home parish as a youth was Our Lady of Lourdes in Melbourne. He recalled talking to Msgr. John Caulfield about a call to priesthood. The late monsignor suggested he keep it in prayer while going to college and work. Father Gill spent more than 20 years working in the public and private sector. A visit home changed his course when his mother gifted him her father’s rosary.

“It had been 20 years since I prayed a rosary,” Father Gill recalled.

He began praying the rosary on his way to work and participating in daily Mass. Soon those discernment conversations from his youth began to stir again. Two years later, still enjoying his secular life, he asked God “for an email” telling him to become a priest. He laughed recalling the request. What he received was better than an email.

Going on pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, he came out of the Basilica of St. Francis and saw carved upon the wall a profile of Pope John XXIII noting the date Oct. 4, 1962, when the pope celebrated Mass there inaugurating the start of Vatican II. Pope John XXIII was the designated seminary for Father Gill’s diocese, and he was born on Oct. 4, 1962. He took that as “the” sign. The photo he snapped of the wall hung on the door of his room in the seminary, a reminder of the call.

Father Ken Gill, right, and seminarian classmate and long-time friend, Father Ivan Olmo, share a joyful moment after Father Gill’s incardination to the Diocese of Orlando. Father Gill is rector of Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach. (GLENDA MEEKINS)

Father Gill was ordained in June 2014 for the Archdiocese of Washington. He requested to return to central Florida to be closer to his aging mother and began serving as rector of Basilica of St. Paul, Daytona Beach in July 2022.

“It is a great joy for me and for my family to return to the soil of my birth, hopefully for as long as God wills, to serve the beautiful people of God here,” Father Gill said.

Speaking about his time at the basilica he said, “It’s been a real season of renewal. I am trying not to lead the Lord, but allowing the Lord to lead me.”

In response to the needs of the people, he began offering a healing Mass every month and two hours of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession every week. Father Gill has also revitalized the Ministry to the Sick preparing more Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to take communion to area hospitals, nursing homes and the homebound.

“We are really going through this time of renewal, engaging and allowing people to exercise their baptismal call to be priest, prophet and king in service to the community,” he said. He hopes living out the basilica’s new motto: “A beacon of light and an ocean of mercy,” will help people experience God’s healing and mercy and come back home to the Church.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, March 15, 2024