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What’s His Story? Fr. Kyle Smith

In the Catholic world we often encounter women and men who have chosen to live radically different lives. Often it can lead us to ask, “what’s his or her story?” In this series we are honored to share the stories of priests and religious in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Do you think you know what priesthood and religious life is all about? You might just be in for a few surprises.

Caption: Father Kyle Smith is pictured during the Mass of his installation as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Tampa on September 25, 2022. Photos by Steve Poisall,

September 27, 2022 |Today, we focus on Father Kyle Smith. On September 25, 2022, Bishop Gregory Parkes installed Father Smith as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Tampa. He grew up in Land O’Lakes, Florida and was ordained in 2014.

How many kids in your family?

I am an only child. I have no siblings, but I have a lot of cousins and other extended family. I don’t think I’m too spoiled but reasonably normal.

Why did you want to become a priest?

I have two reasons. The first one is kind of sad. When I was a senior in high school my grandmother passed away. I don’t know if a priest saw her beforehand, but a lot of my family members were under the impression that a priest never came. It made me think, “how could I avoid a situation like this in the future?” My thought process was to become a priest to make sure that if it's in my control or power, I can go see sick people in the future. 

The second reason occurred when I was a seminarian. One day, a part of my assignment was to visit this woman who was passing away and had no friends. She had no loved ones. It was just me in the room with her. I was sitting there, praying with her and just kind of quietly there with her, just holding her hand. In the moment that she passed away, it got me thinking that if I wasn’t there in that moment, no one would have been there. 

Did anyone in your family encourage you to become a priest?

There is a long running joke in my family. My mother would say when I was born, “I am thankful to God for giving me this son, but I give him back to You.” No one persistently said, “Kyle you need to go to priesthood. Kyle you need to be thinking about this.” It was more of, “Would you be open to this?” Family and friends would ask, “Have you ever thought about it?” My own pastor, Monsignor Ronald Aubin, who is retired and now helps at my parish, was very encouraging. It was never forceful. It was like, “I like this life, and I think you might enjoy it as well.”

What is your favorite part about being a priest?

I love the sacraments, as well as being with the people during happy moments, sad moments, or a moment of conversion. If I’m baptizing someone or going to Mass, all these things are kind of ordinary things in the Catholic life. But for a particular individual, let’s say it’s their wedding day, it can be a very extraordinary moment. I love being able to be Jesus Christ for people at a pivotal moment. So, I’d say the sacramental life and being able to hear confessions or have conversations with these people is extraordinary. Realizing that the ordinary things we do are kind of extraordinary when we see them through the eyes of the faith.

Is there anything that surprises you about being a priest?

Paperwork! Actually, for me, it’s just how often the Lord shows His face, and His hands and feet through the people we encounter, through a simple conversation. For me, it’s humbling how often I can sense the love of God in my community and even sometimes strangers. It’s something that I didn’t see before priesthood that I often feel as a priest.

What would you say to a young man who is thinking that God might be calling him?

Apply to the seminary. I think that so often the challenge of young people, and sometimes people in general, is that there is a hesitancy to do anything. The thought process is, “If I think about it long enough then I’ll get an answer.” In my experience, I find that when someone pursues something, even if they get a no, it’s sort of a consolation that at least they trusted in faith, at least they were open enough to see where God is.

As you are installed as the new pastor of St. Mary’s on Sept. 25, what are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to continuing the work. I have been here for a year and the people of God here have been more than delightful and faithful. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow in my own faith, but also to help and be there for them. I’m trying to continue to be that loving face of Christ for my people and push past any challenges with the grace that God gives me.

What’s something surprising that people would be surprised to learn?

When I was younger, I was a Boy Scout.  I cut my knee open, I think it was on a picnic table. I honestly don’t know how it happened but if anyone ever sees me, they’ll see that my leg has a substantial scar across my knee.

End Note

If any of my parishioners at St. Mary’s see this, I just want to say thank you for the last year here and I hope to continue to work with you, and for you in the future.