In Memoriam: Fr. John Kenny, CSP (1931-2017)

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 as he passed.

Fr. Kenny was 86.

Having entered our minor seminary at age 18, he had been a member of the Paulist community for 68 years. Ordained on May 1, 1958, he had been 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 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.

In his first assignment, Fr. Kenny served from 1959 to 1966 on the faculty of our minor seminary, St. Peter’s in Baltimore.

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.

Paulist Fr. John Kenny, right, receiving a first priestly blessing from Paulist Fr. Steven Petroff, left, on May 20, 2017.

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:

Thursday, November 2:
Cathedral of St. Andrew, Grand Rapids, MI
10:30 a.m. Memorial Mass, Reception to Follow
Friday, November 3:
Holy Cross Church, Vero Beach, FL
9 a.m. Visitation
10 a.m. Funeral Mass
Transfer to New York City
Sunday, November 5:
Paulist Fathers Motherhouse
415 West 59th St., New York, NY
7 p.m. Wake Service & Visitation in House Chapel
Monday, November 6:
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, New York, NY
10 a.m. Funeral Mass
Funeral Mass available via Facebook Live
Following the funeral Mass, Fr. Kenny will be buried in the Paulist section of St. Thomas the Apostle Cemetery in Oak Ridge, NJ.
Luncheon in St. Thomas Church Hall.

Make a gift in memory of Fr. John for the Paulist he loved and the Catholic Information Center.

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