By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Music also hath charms that can lead a young man to the priesthood.
Deacon Ryan Koster “doesn’t like to talk about how good I am at stuff.”
But when he was still in high school, he was well on his way to becoming an accomplished violinist. He was, in fact, gifted with the talent to make the Kansas City Metro All-District Orchestra all four years at Rockhurst High School, as well as the Missouri All-State Orchestra in his sophomore, junior and senior years.
His repertoire includes a range from classical to bluegrass. “Yes, I can play, ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’” he said.
Deacon Koster said he was also blessed with an appreciation of history. After high school, he thought God wanted him to combine those two great loves.
“I wanted to be a history teacher,” he said.
“I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in a classroom and teach what I loved, and what I loved was history,” Deacon Koster said.
“I played the violin since I was three years old and the viola since I was 15,” he said. “Music has always been an essential part of my life and I knew that even though I didn’t want to pursue music as a career, I could always play in local orchestras on the side and have many opportunities to continue playing.”
Deacon Koster enrolled at the University of Dallas as a history major and soaked it all in.
“I was able to take top-notch history courses as well as all basic liberal arts courses thanks to their excellent core curriculum,” he said.
“I was studying theology, philosophy, math, economics, politics and English, and I was able to play in small chamber ensembles on both the violin and viola. It was a perfect fit for me,” he said.
Or so he thought.
“God had other plans,” Deacon Koster said.
After that whirlwind freshman year, Deacon Koster said, he was invited to play at an ordination at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where he will be ordained to the diocesan priesthood on May 23 along with six other young men.
He might as well been hit with a bolt of lightning, Deacon Koster said.
“I was seated on the edge of the balcony which gave me a perfect seat for something I had never seen before,” he said.
“During the Rite of Ordination itself, I was suddenly overcome with the insatiable desire to accomplish what I was witnessing,” he said.
“Every fiber, every ounce of my being and consciousness was telling me that what was happening to the ordinand has to happen to me,” Deacon Koster said. “It was a total encompassing feeling of contentment and peace.”
As powerful as that moment was, Deacon Koster still had reservations.
Yes, it was grand. But was it the priesthood he was being called to, or the ordination ceremony itself with all the glory and attention of the packed cathedral focused on the man being ordained.
“I assumed that as the ordination faded away, my now ardent desire to pursue the priesthood would fade with it,” he said. So he decided to wait.
“One month later, I decided it was time to talk to someone,” he said.
He contacted Father Steve Cook, then director of vocations for the diocese.
“He asked me what my plans were at UD (University of Dallas), and I told him I would be studying in Rome with UD that fall,” Deacon Koster said.
“He thought that was the perfect place to discern if this was truly what I wanted, so my primary discernment took place in the heart of Catholicism. What a blessing that was,” he said.
That time in Rome convinced him that it was no passing fancy he felt at that ordination. He began the application process in January and entered Conception Seminary College as a junior that fall.
Deacon Koster said he had no doubts that his parents, Kevin and Judith Koster, would be 100 percent behind him. “They’ve been amazing,” he said.
But his extended family includes non-Catholics as well.
“I had no idea of the support I would receive from the non-Catholics in my family,” he said. “My family has been incredibly supportive.”
Especially for a kid who would never be confused as super-religious growing up.
“I never liked going to Mass. I didn’t like serving, I thought Confirmation classes were boring, and the faith itself never seemed worth studying,” Deacon Koster admitted.
“I’d have to say the biggest obstacle I had to overcome is myself,” he said.
“I’ve discovered what it was that God has desired of me since my conception,” Deacon Koster said.
“My time in formation has taught me that when I deny myself, when I take off the old self and put on the new, that I can truly be a servant of the Lord,” he said.
“I’ve been so blessed in my time in formation with what I’ve been able to do, who I’ve been able to meet, and what I’ve been able to learn that I can only imagine what God has in store for me in my ministry in the great Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph,” Deacon Koster said.
“It has been my home my entire life, and I cannot wait to serve it and God until the day I die,” he said.