Rev. Kayda
Rev. Kayda

The Rev. Kevin Lee Kayda II was a young priest moving forward in his assignment to serve at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Freedom.

He died at his parents' Carlisle home Oct. 3 at age 27. Cumberland County Coroner Charles Hall said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest; the manner of death was suicide.

Kayda's family could not be reached for comment but asked the diocese to share that his suicide was linked to depression, said Joe Aponick, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

The family said Kayda struggled with depression for many years and ended his life at the home of his parents -- Kevin and Laura Kayda -- while they were working, according to Aponick.

"The family believes that by sharing this information, someone else might be helped," he said.

A Mass of Remembrance and a funeral Mass were held for Kayda Monday and Tuesday at St. Patrick Church in Carlisle.

"(Kayda) was from that parish and there are very fresh memories there of him," Aponick said.

Work with church: Kayda was ordained a priest on June 1 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg.

He began his service assignment June 17 at St. John the Baptist Parish, where he served as parochial vicar, assisting the parish pastor in serving the congregation, according to the diocese.

"The loss of any life is a tragedy, but the death of a beloved young priest is an especially difficult loss to bear," said the Rev. Robert Gillelan Jr., diocesan administrator, in a statement.

St. John the Baptist's pastor is the Rev. Joshua Brommer. He could not be reached for comment.

Aponick, who talked with Brommer, said Kayda worked with St. John the Baptist's youth group.

Mourning: Both St. John the Baptist and St. Patrick parishes are providing spiritual guidance and counseling

to youth and adults affected by Kayda's death.

St. John the Baptist held a special service for Kayda on Friday, while St. Patrick held a special youth session for him on Sunday, Aponick said.

"For both (churches), there were prayers for Kayda and his family as well as for the church and school communities," he added. "(Attendees) had time to reflect on the circumstances of his death and what that meant for them."

Aponick said he does not know of any other suicide by a priest within the diocese.

"This is very, very rare," he said. "We're handling this as spiritually and professionally as we know how."

Early life: Kayda was born Nov. 13, 1985, in Lancaster County.

Also among Kayda's survivors are his sisters, Stephanie Kayda, Pittsburgh, and Michelle Kayda, Baltimore; his maternal grandmother, Jean McMillan of Falling Waters, W.Va.; and his dog, Tuggboat.

He attended St. Patrick Elementary School in Carlisle and graduated from Carlisle High School in 2004, according to an obituary by Hoffman-Roth Funeral Home & Crematory in Carlisle.

Kayda studied at Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, W.Va., and received a bachelor's degree at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Westmoreland County. He was a 2013 graduate of Emmitsburg, Md.-based Mount St. Mary Seminary with master's degrees in church history and theology.

Before becoming a priest, Kayda was a deacon at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Waynesboro, Franklin County.

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com. Staff writer Christina Kauffman contributed to this report.