October 29, 2017
With sadness, we announce that our brother, Paulist Fr. John Kenny, passed into eternal life on Sunday morning, October 29, 2017, in Vero Beach, FL.
His Paulist brothers were praying the Rosary in his presence at the time of his death.
Fr. Kenny was 86. He had been a member of the Paulist community for 68 years and a priest for 59 years.
Fr. Kenny was born September 11, 1931, and raised on Chicago’s South Side, the son of John J. Kenny and Catherine Hurley Kenny. He attended St. Leo’s Grade School (taught by the Sisters of Providence) and Leo High School (under the tutelage of the Irish Christian Brothers).
His family moved to East Rochester, NY, in 1948.
Attracted by the Paulist trailer missions in the southern United States, Fr. Kenny entered our preparatory seminary in Maryland in 1949 at age 18.
He made his first promises to the Paulist community on September 8, 1952. He made his final promises on September 8, 1955.
Fr. Kenny earned an undergraduate and masters degree from our major seminary, St. Paul’s College. He also earned a masters degree in French from the University of Maryland.
He was ordained a priest on May 1, 1958, by Cardinal Francis Spellman, archbishop of New York, at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.
In his first assignment, Fr. Kenny served from 1959 to 1966 on the faculty of our preparatory seminary in Maryland, teaching languages.
He served as a Catholic campus minister at Boston University from 1966 to 1970.
From 1970 to 1978, he was director of the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, MI.
He then served as pastor of three university parishes: St. John’s in Morgantown, WV (1978 to 1984); St Thomas Aquinas in Boulder, CO (1984 to 1992); and St. Andrew in Clemson, SC (1993 to 1999). During these years, he also served as superior of the Paulist Fathers in each city.
In 2000, Fr. Kenny returned to Grand Rapids where he again ministered at the Catholic Information Center and, starting in 2008, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew.
In September, 2015, he moved to our senior ministry residence in Vero Beach, FL.
Just two weeks ago, Fr. Kenny was in Grand Rapids for the 70th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, October 14, for the Catholic Information Center. At the event, he expressed his gratefulness to God for his priesthood, saying, “I’d do it all over again! It’s been wonderful!”
Fr. Kenny is preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Fr. Donald Kenny (who had been priest of Diocese of Joliet, IL) and Thomas Kenny.
In addition to the Paulist Fathers, he is survived by his sister-in-law, Dorothy; his nephews, Richard, Scott, Michael, and Brian; and several great nephews and great nieces.
We pray for our departed brother in the ancient words of the Church:
May the angels lead you into paradise,
may the martyrs come to welcome you,
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.
Schedule of Events in Remembrance and Celebration of Paulist Fr. John Kenny:
Fr. Kenny speaks of his vocation in this interview recorded in 2013:
PLAYLIST: Homilies, lectures, and classes given by Fr. Kenny at the Cathedral of St. Andrew and the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, MI:
(Click the icon in the top-left corner of the player to select videos in the playlist.)
Below are photos from Fr. Kenny’s long life. To see several more, please visit this Pinterest board.
Paulist Fr. John Kenny depicted in an embroidery by Paulist Fr. Frank Sabatté