1920 – 2005 (February 6)
Joseph Donald Keffer, son of John Keffer and Estella Poist, was born on October 22, 1920, in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, into a family of eight sons and one daughter. He was baptized and received his early education at Saint Mary's Parish in McSherrystown, graduating from the parish school in 1934. He then attended Central Catholic High School where he excelled in both basketball and football. From 1938 to 1941, he studied Business at Villanova College, and in 1941, became a post graduate postulant at Augustinian Academy on Staten Island, New York. He was received into the novitiate of Our Mother of Good Counsel, New Hamburg, New York, on September 9, 1942, and professed first vows on September 10, 1943. He then returned to Villanova, and in June 1944, graduated with a B.A. degree in Philosophy. He studied theology at Augustinian College and did graduate work in Education and Economics both at Villanova and at Catholic University in Washington, DC. Joseph professed solemn vows on September 10, 1946, and on June 10, 1947, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John M. McNamara, in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.
In 1948, Father Keffer received his first assignment to St. Mary's Parish in Waterford, New York. That September, he became sub-master at Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, where he remained until August 1952, when he joined the community at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC, and where, for the next ten years, he taught Religion and Latin, and served as Director of Athletics and Moderator of the School Band. For a period of time he was community treasurer. From July 1962 to August 1967, he was Master of Professed at Saint Mary's Hall, Villanova. In 1967, he was appointed Master of Brothers at Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate where he also served as prior and treasurer for three years.
Beginning in 1971, and for the next 34 years, Father Keffer served as associate pastor, pastor, prior and treasurer in various parishes of the Province: Saint Denis, Havertown, Saint Genevieve, Flourtown, and Saint Thomas of Villanova, all in Pennsylvania. In Massachusetts he was appointed pastor, prior and treasurer at Saint Augustine Parish, Andover, then at Saint Mary's, Waterford, Saint Joseph, Greenwich, and Saint Augustine, Troy, in New York.
Father Keffer was greatly devoted to the Eucharist and to Mary, and fostered devotional life wherever he was stationed. Toward the end of his life he battled cancer and heart problems, but continued to work in parochial ministry until his death.
Father Keffer died peacefully on February 6, 2005. A liturgy was celebrated on February 10, at Saint Augustine Church, Troy, N.Y. The following day, the Funeral Mass was celebrated at Saint Thomas of Villanova Church, Villanova, Pa. Interment was held at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.
Father Keffer is remembered as a religious of humility, patience, and deep spirituality, a gifted pastoral minister who always made time to visit people in the various parishes in which he served, a man of great compassion and concern.