Rev. Marvin C. Kitten, SJ, died January 12 in Opelousas, Louisiana. He was 84 years old, a Jesuit for 62 years and a priest for 50 years.
The son and grandson of cotton farmers, Fr. Kitten was born in Slaton, Texas, on March 13, 1931. He graduated from Cooper Rural High in Lubbock in 1948 and earned a B.S. in mathematics at Texas Technological College in Lubbock in 1952. He entered the former New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1953, at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau. Following first vows, he studied humanities in Grand Coteau and philosophy at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, earning his M.A. in philosophy in 1959. He earned a bachelor of sacred theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, in 1967. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1965, at St. Joseph’s Church in Mobile. He pronounced his final vows on February 2, 1971, at Dallas Jesuit College Preparatory.
Fr. Kitten served for 12 years at Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas first as a teacher of theology, then as a counselor. He then moved to Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston as a counselor. When New Orleans Provincial Father Edmundo Rodríguez, SJ, received a request from St. Mary’s Parish Student Center in College Station, Texas, for a Jesuit who could assist with their campus ministry at Texas A&M, he made what he later called “probably one of the best long-range decisions that I have made as provincial” and sent Fr. Kitten to Texas A&M. Fr. Kitten’s ministry there was hugely successful: not only was he beloved by the students, but there are a number of Jesuits in the Central and Southern Province who trace their vocations back to his influence there.
Fr. Kitten was a natural as vocation director and served in that capacity for the New Orleans Province for 16 years. When his time as vocation director came to an end, he became part of the campus ministry team at Spring Hill College in Mobile. Once again, he connected easily with students and staff he was well-known on campus for his hats, his boots, his golf cart and his smile.
Fr. Kitten had the gift of making each person feel special. He was never too busy to pay attention or listen. He was a gifted teacher, one who could make things easily understandable and interesting. He had prodigious energy. The heart of his approach might be summed up in his own words: “You don’t sit in a closed environment and ring the bell and think that they’re going to come to you. You meet them where they are. And if you have a vision that’s attractive, chances are they’ll notice it.” And notice it they did.
Fr. Kitten was preceded in death by his parents, August A. Kitten and Helen Strube Kitten; and his brothers, Wilfred, A.J., and Calvin Kitten. He is survived by his brother Clarence H. Kitten, his wife Carol, many nieces, nephews and other relatives.
We remember with gratitude all that God has done through Fr. Kitten’s life of service to God and God's people.
Use one of the following methods to make a memorial contribution in Father Kitten’s memory. All contributions will benefit the Rev. Bobby Rimes, S.J. Center for Campus Ministry.
Checks may be made payable and mailed to:
Spring Hill College
4000 Dauphin Street, Mobile, AL 36608
Please indicate in the note section: In Memory of Fr. Kitten
Make an online contribution by visiting http://badgernet.shc.edu/givingmatters
Under designation choose "other" and indicate: "In Memory of Fr. Kitten."