Updated: Dec 6, 2021
It is with pride and joy I present to you the 29th member of Team Do Good, the mighty Jonathan Keenan. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate Jonathan here via Tampa Bless and Team Do Good. His willingness to participate in this feature is highly appreciated. And now, without further ado...
Name: Jonathan Keenan
Place of birth: West Palm Beach, Florida
Currently reside: South Tampa
Heritage: Irish and German
Family: Wife: Stephanie (married 7 years); Children: Rosalie (nearly 6), Ralph, (3.5), and Siena (17 months).
I received my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida. I was the mascot, Albert, and because of my enthusiasm for academics and extracurriculars I was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame the same year as Tim Tebow (Go Gators!).
I received my Medical Doctorate from The George Washington University, where I founded a chapter of the Medical Students for Life. We hosted prominent pro-life speakers such as former abortionist Dr. John Bruchalski, now turned pro-life advocate, and Canadian pro-life speaker Stephanie Gray. I also had the extreme privilege of working with and being mentored by the saintly Sister Dede Byrne, a retired Army Colonel, dual certified in family medicine and general surgery, who became a religious sister in the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. My favorite memory working in her free clinic was when a patient winced during a minor outpatient surgery. She challenged him with a genuine but lighthearted tone, “Just think of Jesus on the cross.”
I served in the Air Force for 11 years, in Washington, D.C., California, and MacDill AFB here in Tampa, as a physician to service members and their families. I deployed to Djibouti, on the horn of Africa in 2020, and was the senior medical advisor to the Special Operations Task Force. I even had the honor of shooting with members of Navy SEAL Team 8 on their range in an undisclosed location, shared by other unnamed three-letter agencies.
Occupation: Family Physician
Activities you organized or participate in related to helping others and uplifting humanity?
I have been active with the Christ the King Society of St. Joseph men’s group since 2017 and currently lead the weekly family leadership challenge for a group of 75-100 men in our church community, such as encouraging men to speak about their faith in their workplace; lead their family to holiness through more frequent Eucharistic Adoration, praying a family Rosary; or trying to go one week without speeding.
I recently joined the Holy League, a biweekly men’s group that meets at Epiphany of Our Lord parish (the Diocese’s only Latin Mass parish). It begins with Vespers (the evening prayer of the Divine Office), followed by Adoration, the Rosary in Latin, an hour of catechesis led by our pastor, and then fellowship. It has been humbling to learn more about the richness of our faith by attending the Traditional Latin Mass at this parish and I feel I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
I recently joined Troops of Saint George, a Catholic alternative to the Boy Scouts, which “aims to use the outdoors as our canvas and the sacraments as our path to light the way for the formation of Holy Catholic men and boys.” I’ve had fun bringing my son and Godson to grow in virtue together and learn survival skills—both earthly and eternal. Our society desperately needs truly Godly men leading their marriages and families to heaven.
The Tampa Bless 12
1) Favorite pastime or hobby? Why? Please explain.
Running. I sometimes listen to folk music or Catholic Answers podcasts, but when I run without audio distractions I feel close to God. It feels like I’m thinking about nothing, and everything, at the same time. I frequently offer up my final prolonged exhausting sprint for suffering friends, relatives, or the souls in purgatory.
2) Favorite sport, team, or player? If not into sports, your favorite musician or album? Or answer one of each if you’d like or any combo. Please explain why for any one or more of the questions you answered.
My favorite sport to play (besides running) is soccer. I played from childhood through medical school. I think it takes the most all-around physical fitness and stamina. Favorite sports team is the Florida Gators (obviously)! Lately, I’ve enjoyed the music of Christian folk artists Josh Garrells and Roo Panes. I discovered Roo Panes and one of his songs, Land of the Living, around the time of my father’s death from esophageal cancer in 2017. I tear up every time I hear the song because it is such a beautiful ode to Heaven.
3) Favorite movie? Why? Please explain.
In the Heights (technically a Broadway show written by Lin Manuel Miranda before he became famous). I first saw it on the same day I had been accepted into medical school, so it is a fun memory for me. I’m not usually a fan of broadway, but I love rap and hip hop, so when the show started in the dark theater with a spotlight on a single character who began rapping about his neighborhood, I was hooked. Naturally, I became a fan of Hamilton as well.
4) Favorite place (country, city, town, etc…) you have visited and why?
Mount Tamalpais on the coast of northern California. It was the first place I ever saw the Pacific Ocean, saw eagles soaring, hiked through the redwood forest, saw the San Francisco skyline, and capped it off by watching the sunset from the mountainside overlooking Stinson Beach. I felt so small looking out into the vast ocean, yet so at peace with God’s spectacular creation and His future plan for my life. It was an especially pivotal time because I was finishing medical school in Washington, D.C. and discerning where God was calling me for residency and where to live the first few years of our marriage.
5) Last meal? You could have anything, what is it? Why? Please explain.
My wife’s lumpia (Filipino egg rolls). No matter how many I have I always want more!
6) Three activities or routines you would highly recommend? Please explain your reasoning for each.
1. Heroic Minute, an idea from Saint Josemaria Escriva. Immediately when you wake, or as soon as the alarm buzzes, drop to your knees and offer a prayer. Consecrate your day to Jesus, to do God’s will through every single action you take, and to intentionally invite the Holy Spirit to accompany you in your daily duties. I often choose a version of the Morning Offering, “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in thanksgiving for Your favors, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father, Amen.”
2. Sacrifice for your family. There are hundreds of small sacrifices every day that we can offer for our families. In the Society of St. Joseph we once watched a Knights of Columbus video series and one of my favorite quotes from the video on suffering is that men only live 40% of their lives. The other 60% they just put up with. Basically saying we need to learn how to enjoy suffering as much as we enjoy the other emotions. Another striking quote was that we fear death because we don't prepare for death until the very end of our lives. We need to practice dying every day-- dying to ourselves in small ways time after time. Offering up that afternoon coffee or that snack between meals, or volunteering to scrub the dirty pots and pans in the sink. Saint Mother Teresa said, “Wash the dish not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” Instead of wasting these opportunities to sacrifice for our spouses and children, we can apply the redemptive grace towards our own life or for someone who's suffering, or in purgatory. And every time we offer up a small suffering we earn a partial indulgence, which “removes part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." (CCC #1471). As members of the Church Militant, it’s always good practice to offer the indulgence for a soul in purgatory instead of our ourselves—because we can always lose the indulgence by sinning a minute later, but a soul in heaven will offer greater prayers for us than we can for ourselves.
3. Exercise. As an evidence-based family doctor, I have to emphasize that exercise is good for everything. There is no medical condition that couldn’t be improved or cured by appropriate exercise relative to one’s condition. Choose a type of exercise you can enjoy (so you could continue it long term), and keep progressing. If you haven’t exercised since you ran middle school track, you don’t have to sign up for a marathon. Go for a walk after dinner; make it longer each day. If your joints hurt, try swimming or water aerobics. Choose a trendy app like 7-Minute-Workout that can help you squeeze exercise into your day. Don’t forget spiritual exercise, either. Most people want to go to Heaven, where we’ll spend eternity with God, but-- reality check-- most people won’t be going to Heaven. Even if we do make it, how can we believe we’ll enjoy eternity with God and the angels and saints if we can’t find a way to enjoy just five minutes with them in daily prayer, or an hour with them in mass? If prayer or mass or adoration or any sacrament is not appealing or enjoyable to you-- it’s not the sacrament, it’s you. It could be the devil, distracting you from those things while simultaneously hiding or disguising his existence from you, but you have to overcome that. When you meet the Lord after death, in that judgment moment when you will be held accountable for every action in your entire life, you best believe the Lord is going to reveal to you the extravagant amount of time you spent binge-watching, scrolling social media, surfing the web (and the things you viewed), compared to the time you did not spend in prayer or dedicated to Him. Just like physical exercise-- choose a type of prayer you can enjoy (so you can continue it long term), and keep progressing. Try reflecting on the daily readings, reading the lives of the saints (real-life examples of how to be holy), praying the Liturgy of the Hours, daily reflection or meditation (my favorite is The Imitation of Christ and this year we added Divine Intimacy by Gabriele di Santa Maria Maddalena to our collection), attending weekly Eucharistic Adoration, finding a Bible study, praying a family Rosary as you put the kids to bed, praying a novena for a specific intention, reading saint quotes, fasting, etc. There’s a saying, “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.”
7) A) Personality trait you highly value? Why? Please explain. B) The personality trait you highly dislike? Why? Please explain.
A. Enthusiasm and positivity. To paraphrase a Bible verse from St. Paul-- as much as we can think ourselves into a way of acting, we can act ourselves into a way of thinking. So if we act a certain way we (and those around us) are bound to feel that way, and it’s much nicer to spread joy.
B. Not being present in the moment/inattention. One of my biggest pet peeves in conversation is when someone is clearly not paying attention. I amuse myself in these situations by saying something outlandish or intentionally stopping mid-sentence, and laughing inside when the other person doesn’t notice.
8) Favorite thinker (author, philosopher, theologian, etc…)? Why? Please explain. And what is your favorite piece of advice, quote, or text from them or in general? Why? Please explain.
I read Saint Pope John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility at an influential time in my life, and his depth of thought and understanding of Catholic theology and morals stood out to me. He was the earliest pope I have memories of, so he definitely impacted me. My spiritual director in DC, who also prepared my wife and me for marriage, was mentored by a priest whose mentor was SPJPII, so that close degree of separation also felt quite divine. I also love the thoughts of Saint Josemaría Escrivá (founder of Opus Dei) in his book of quotes called The Way. But a long-standing favorite quote of mine comes from Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and Austrian neurologist who said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms— to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way… It is this spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful.” I tell a simplified version of this to my children, and I remind them that no matter what anyone takes from them, they can never take away God. God is always with you.
9) Biggest influence in your life or a top one, and what was it about them that really stood out?
My Dad - a Catholic school teacher for 10 years and public school teacher for 30 more. He was the most intentionally thoughtful human I knew. He taught me how to love unconditionally-- I remember sitting in his classroom studying before school, and the most misunderstood, awkward, and unwanted students often stopped by before their days began, probably seeking some sort of affirmation they didn’t receive at home. He always stopped his tasks, greeted them with eye contact and a warm smile, and asked genuine inspiring questions about their hobbies, hopes, and dreams. He taught me to plan ahead, he taught me it’s nice to be nice to the nice, and that people matter more than things. He taught me how to anticipate the needs of others, he taught me the art of situational awareness. He was a phenomenal gourmet chef and a perfect surprise-gift giver. He taught me every lesson I needed in life, and the final lesson was how to nobly handle pain and suffering as he endured esophageal cancer during the final years of his life. He remained faithful to God despite every obstacle and showed me how sanctifying suffering can be. His ultimate reward was a happy death, while holding the hands of his children.
10) If there is one thing you could change in the world, what would it be?
Humility. It’s hard to imagine a single cure for the world’s problems, but I bet humility would help. I believe interpersonal conflicts stem from lack of humility on both sides. I once read Dale Carnegie’s book called How to Win Friends and Influence People, which mentions to never correct someone if they call you by the wrong name because they will eventually realize their error without your drawing attention to it. I think it’s worth mentioning a specific form of humility-- humility of faith. Born and raised Catholic, I always attended Sunday mass, but my faith really ignited on a college retreat. Afterwards, my faith strengthened through discussions with and challenges from friends because I found beautiful explanations for every teaching of the Catholic faith by going straight to the source: the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I began to realize that in my short life I could never possibly out-think, or know more, than 2000+ years of the world’s greatest theologians, philosophers, scientists, and saints who have all questioned, and confirmed, the one True Church started by Jesus Christ Himself. Any time my faith stalls, I’m reinspired by this reality.
11) Where did your desire to help others and uplift humanity come from? Please explain.
Junior year of college I took a medical mission trip to Brazil. We boated 40 hours up the Amazon River from the nearest city. I learned basic Portuguese, shadowed the doctors, and saw what significant differences they made in the lives of these people and tribes, through even the simplest means of medical care and medicinal treatments. Combining that with the Christian catechetical missionary work they did inspired me to pursue medicine.
12) What are you working on now and how can people get involved?
I recently joined LifeChoices Family Medical and I have loved every minute of it. No matter how busy or long the days get, I never go home stressed. Every member of our staff is joyful and selfless. LifeChoices started as a pro-life pregnancy clinic in 2009, added women’s health in 2015, added family medicine in 2020, and we’re open to whatever the Holy Spirit leads us to next, including plans for a South Tampa location. It’s a very strongly Catholic practice and we adhere to the ethical and religious directives of the church. We practice mainstream medicine with a holistic perspective open to complementary and alternative techniques, and we also practice restorative reproductive medicine-- including Natural Family Planning, and the Creighton Model of Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology which can help couples conceive when nothing else has worked. We see patients of every age-- newborns, pediatrics, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, geriatrics, and more-- from womb to tomb. We care for traditional insured patients, but also for many uninsured, abortion-vulnerable, abortion-pill-reversal, and high-risk patients, plus their friends and families. Because of this, and because we are a 501c3 nonprofit, we rely heavily on donations of every kind-- monetary, time, baby supplies, and more. We would love for you and your family to become our patients, too! Spread the word. Refer everyone to us. Rate us 5 stars on every platform!
Thank you so much for your time Jonathan and for all that you do. The place we live in is that much better because of you. I hope that this feature has served to inspire you, as well as successfully celebrate those that help others and uplift humanity.
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