Standing on good stead and building on the foundation
By Mallory Matt
He was the very first priest ordained in the Diocese of Beaumont. Forty-nine years ago, Msgr. Kenneth Greig and three other priests were aligned alphabetically to answer the calling of their vocation — “Greig,” being the first in line.
“It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been ordained 49 years this month,” he said. “It’s gone by quickly and it’s been filled with many cherished memories that I thank God for every day.
“I think we’re standing in good stead and building on the foundation of the past, and I’m looking forward to the next 50 years. I don’t know how many of us will be around by then, but it’s kind of interesting to watch,” he said.
Msgr. Greig said that during the course of his career, he has come to think of each parish he has served in as a home and the parishioners his family. In July 2014, Msgr. Greig retired from St. Peter the Apostle in Groves where he was pastor for 21 years.
“That’s where my heart is — serving the people that have come to mean so much to me,” he said. “Over the 49 years that I’ve been ordained, I’ve met some wonderful people in each of my parishes. Many of them have remained lifelong friends of mine over the years.”
One of the more significant changes Msgr. Greig has seen since the beginning of the Diocese of Beaumont has been the ACTS retreats.
“To me, the ACTS retreats have been one of the biggest and most positive changes in our parish life,” he said. “I’ve been involved with ACTS for the last 10 years through St. Peter parish in Groves. To see the impact that it has on the life of these men and women, I can identify with because each retreat has been kind of a renewal experience for me as a priest.”
Another big change that Msgr. Greig has seen over the last 50 years is the experience in the seminary.
“The seminarian’s experience today is much broader than ours,” he said. “It was a rare occasion in those days that any of our students were sent abroad to study in other places around the world, but it’s getting to be more and more common today. We have a few of our seminarians who are studying in Rome. They’re getting the opportunity to be influenced by other parts of the world that we didn’t have when we were going through the seminary.”
In the late 1950s, Msgr. Greig entered St. Mary Seminary in Houston where he spent all eight years of his seminary experience.
“It was kind of a community where you felt bonded to your classmates, but it was like you had to ask permission to do everything,” he said. “There were only certain nights when we could watch television and we didn’t see newspapers except on Sunday mornings. If you look at it in comparison to today, it’s an entirely different atmosphere.
“I think it’s good that the changes were made as time has changed along the way. The young men coming out today will have an exposure to things going on around the world outside the seminary walls. It’s quite different than when we were in school.”
In the years Msgr. Greig has been a priest, he has been humbled by his experiences.
“Father Michael Jamail once told a seminarian that one of the most important things about priesthood is to be there — not what you do when you’re there — just be there,” he said.
“That’s proven to be a very wise saying in my own experience.
“It’s been a very fulfilling and exciting ride of these 49 years,” he said. “God has put me where He wanted me and He has blessed me tremendously throughout all of these experiences.”