Father Dismas Marie Kline, C.F.R.

A Self-Described ‘Bad Agnostic’ Who Began to Pray


At the turn of the millennium, a young Father Dismas Marie Kline, C.F.R., celebrated with some 85,000 people at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Florida as the rock band Phish performed a sold-out concert.

On one side was his girlfriend, and on the other was his best friend. The starry blue night was idyllic and music filled the air until sunset.

Yet, as he looked around, there was something unsettling. “I thought, this is all meaningless,” Father Dismas said. “I felt crushed.

“That’s when I said, I think I’m going to start praying,” he said.

Father Dismas, 35, was born to Richard and Laura Kline in Morehead, Ky., and has two brothers, Cabe and Vincent. As a child, he felt that he might have a call to the priesthood, but he knew that meant sacrificing having a wife and a family.

“Throughout my childhood, adolescence and teenage years, I tried to repress that inkling,” he said.

Sometimes that inkling, or “sneaking suspicion,” of a vocation to the priesthood would surface, he said. He recalled one vivid memory in particular. At the age of 12, he was cast as an insignificant character in the Stations of the Cross at his parish, Our Mother of Sorrows in Louisville, Ky.

“I went off on my own and stood in front of the sanctuary and stared out at the empty pews and there was this surge of joy,” he said.

Not wanting to believe it was a call to the priesthood, he said with a gentle laugh, “I told myself it was because I was supposed to be an actor.”

At college, he underwent a crisis of faith that began in 1998 at Western Kentucky University and continued as a philosophy major at the College of Charleston through 2002.

“It seemed pretty much impossible to believe in God,” he said. He explained saying that an agnostic is someone who “firmly confesses that it’s not possible to know whether God exists or not,” he referred to himself a “bad agnostic” because he “was unsure about God’s existence,” but “was desperate to know whether or not He did.”

In the beginning of his search, his prayer was simply “To Whom it May Concern.” He didn’t know who or what he was praying to, but he desired to be in communion with whatever it was. Slowly, after years of searching, he returned to his Catholic faith and discerned his vocation to the priesthood.

“When I marched down that aisle for Communion, I was still unsure,” he said of his return to the sacrament.

Since that first step, he has been a daily communicant for 14 years—missing only a handful of times.

Father Dismas’ First Mass will be celebrated at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday, June 5, 10 a.m. The homilist will be Father Agustino Torres, C.F.R., director of evangelization for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.


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