Junction City family has members in Catholic school for more than five decades
Junction City — Graduation season brings many bittersweet moments to students and families across the nation as one journey ends and another begins. For one Junction City family, graduation will be particularly poignant this year as it closes an era more than five decades in the making. For 52 consecutive years, the Keating family has had at least one of its members in the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School system. This chapter in both the family’s and school’s history will conclude as Jacob Keating, the youngest son of Jeff and Joan Keating, graduates with the St. Xavier Class of 2019 on May 18. The family matriarch, Marcena, knew the value a Catholic school education could bring to a family as she and her nine siblings grew up attending Catholic school in Tipton. She said her husband Francis had no objections to sending their five children to be educated at St. Francis Xavier. “I knew they’d go to church two times a week and they would have religion classes,” Marcena said.
Additionally, Marcena said she and Francis took comfort in the fact that everyone at the school knew everyone else and that created a small town feel within the Catholic school community. The couple’s oldest daughter Judy began the family’s long history at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School with her enrollment in first grade in 1967. Over the next 17 years, Jeff, Jim, John and Jacki followed.
The Keating children’s time at the school was not limited to their role as students. For John, the school provided the opportunity for his first teaching and coaching job following his graduation from Kansas State University. “I really enjoyed my time there and seeing the school and all the traditions from a different perspective,” John said. That new perspective was in one way very different from that of the teachers John taught alongside. In his new position, he now had his youngest sister, Jacki, lovingly referred to as “Little Keating,” as one of his students. This crossing of personal and professional roles was an interesting situation, but Jacki jokingly explained they had a mutual understanding about their roles. “I told him I would absolutely not call him Mr. Keating,” she said with a laugh. “That would just be too weird. He asked what else I would call him, so I told him I would call him ‘Coach.’ ” “A lot of people thought I would act out in his class,” Jacki recalled, “but I knew if I did, he would just tell Mom!”
“That situation definitely brought us closer,” she added. “It was actually kind of fun having him as a teacher.”