John (Jack) Kenealy
Fr. John J. Kenealy
Father Jack was a true and great missionary in the classical sense of the word.
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John (Jack) Kenealy

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John (Jack) J. Kenealy, SJ, who died on Sunday, July 2, 2017, in Chicago. He was 90 years old, a Jesuit for 72 years, and a priest for 59 years.

Father Jack, as he was affectionately known, entered the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus in 1945. He studied philosophy in Shembaganur, India, and theology in Bettiah, India. He was ordained a priest in 1958 in Pro-Cathedral, Bankipur, India, and he transcribed to the Patna Province in 1962.

Father Jack was a true and great missionary in the classical sense of the word. The basis of his life and the source of his strength was Jesus Christ. This message was loud and clear to anyone who met him, be they ordinary people, officials, or companions. The daily Eucharist and the hours he spent in prayer were the sources of his daily union with the Lord. His life and ministry flowed from this inner fountain.    

He loved the people of Bihar, whom he was sent to serve. As an expression of his commitment to them, he adopted a very simple lifestyle, which he maintained to the very end. Not only did he learn Hindi well, but he was also completely at ease with rural people, speaking in rural idioms in his conversations. In turn, rural people were very comfortable with him and experienced his love and care.  

As a missionary, Fr. Jack was indeed a "jack of all trades": he could be a pastor in an interior part of Bihar, and he could be a treasurer handling finances and meticulous desk work for a diocese. He could spend days, months, and years cataloging documents in a library, and he could ride his motorcycle for hours to reach a guest. As judge of the Patna Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, he listened to intricate interpersonal issues for hours and would run around the police offices for days and weeks to sort out the registration matters of the American priests. He did all this with utmost dedication. Father Jack enjoyed the innocent pleasures of life, such as long conversations and crossword puzzles in the daily newspapers.

As a friend of Jesus, Fr. Jack was also a friend of orphans. He adopted the orphans of Shapur as his own children, and that adoption became his lifelong commitment. In economically helping them, he did not want them to be at the subsistence level but to live dignified lives. He helped them in full measure. When any of them or their children were sick, he spared no effort to provide them with the best medical care. When they visited him, he made sure to feed them well. He spent himself for them. 

Even at 90 years old, Fr. Jack had no major health issues and was riding his 45-year-old motorcycle. After celebrating his 90th birthday on June, 17, 2017, he left for a visit to the United States with the provincial of the Patna Province. Father Jack was staying with his sister in Chicago and fell ill on July 1. He remained cheerful as he underwent a series of tests, but his health took a turn on July 2, and he died peacefully that evening.

Like St. Paul, Fr. Jack could easily say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful" (2 Tm 4:7). The Lord will surely answer Fr. Jack with, "Well done, good and faithful servant! ... Come and share your master’s happiness!" (Mt 25:21).  

The Patna Province Jesuits thank Fr. Jack for the great inspiration he was and will continue to be. We join them in praying for his intercession to the Lord of the harvest so that he may send many more laborers like Fr. Jack into his vineyard (Mt 9:38).

Saturday, July 8, 2017 
9:30–11 a.m. 
St. Edmund Parish 
188 S. Oak Park Ave. 
Oak Park, IL 60302

Saturday, July 8, 2017 
11 a.m. 
St. Edmund Parish 
188 S. Oak Park Ave. 
Oak Park, IL 60302 

[Source: Patna Province]     

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July 10, 201712:06 PM
His was a truly selfless life, raising up so many truly vulnerable people to lives of dignity and contribution. I selfishly mourn his passing but he will continue to have a profound influence on my own life's actions and I shall enjoy vivid and joyful memories of "Uncle Jack" for the rest of my life. – Anonymous

July 10, 20176:04 PM
Father Jack's nephew Dr. John Corso "introduced" my son Scott and myself to Father Jack's mission. Scott had the opportunity to spend a few days with Father Jack during Scott's post-college "gap" year. Scott was inspired by Father Jack's wisdom, kindness, and selflessness. I enjoyed Father Jack's letters with pictures letting me know about his work and those he served. What a loss to the people of Bihar and his "adopted" children and to the USA Midwest Province. Our thoughts and prayers are with Father Jack's family and his Jesuit community. – Anonymous

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