Lion tamer of Kalaupapa

Today, while preparing a homily, I read a story about a young man who was trying to get a job in a circus. He approached the circus manager who decided to give the young man a chance to be the assistant lion tamer and took him to the lion’s cage. Now it so happened that the head lion tamer was a beautiful young woman who was just about to rehearse her act. She stepped into the cage, removed her cape with a grand flourish, revealing a gorgeous costume — as well as a gorgeous figure, and gave a command to the lion. Immediately the lion came forward, rolled over twice, then sat on its hind quarters in front of her, waiting for a treat. With that the manager turned to the young man and said, “Well, young man, do you think you can learn to do that?” The young man replied, “I’m sure I can do that, but you’ll have to get that lion out of there first.” 

I can’t blame the young man for saying this. I probably would have said the same thing myself. Now I liken an administrator to a combination of a fierce but compliant lion and a calm and courageous lion tamer. He or she must possess the character of a commander-in-chief and the smoothness of a diplomat. He or she must know when to crack the whip and when to speak with calm authority. 

Such a man is Kenneth Seamon, our new Kalaupapa administrator. Ken was born in Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan. He came to the Hawaiian Islands in 1989 and worked at the Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley prior to coming to Kalaupapa in 2016. His lovely wife, Takemi, is the head nurse at Hale Mohalo, near Diamond Head on Oahu.

Ken is a tall, burly man with a semi-Franciscan tonsure. While he is a most affable and sociable man with a great sense of humor and a ready laugh, he could easily take on a lion with his bare hands, like the great Samson of Biblical fame who slew a lion with the jaw bone of an ass. Ken spends his official work hours in his office for the most part but also spends time outdoors lending a hand, or both hands, when need arises. He fought the kitchen fire on Labor Day morning, taking on smoke and flame. He arrived on the scene when Meli’s vintage truck got stuck in the mud and sand outside St. Philomena Church on New Year’s Day, and more recently he was very visible on the airport landing strip after a Makani Kai plane made a hard landing. On that occasion he sported a cap to hide his halo. To cap all this (no pun intended), he frequently challenges all competition on the volleyball court.

We wish Ken well in this his newest chapter in life and we hope that he continues to enjoy cracking the whip and speaking with calm authority in our Kalaupapa community for many years to come. Aloha

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.


© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts