Why I wrote the book
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:9)
Father Daniel J. Kennedy had hundreds of friends and they already know much of this story — the winding course that took him across several continents, through nine marathons, in and out of the seminary, and finally to ordination as a Catholic priest. Father Dan’s style was to go at a 24/7 pace and, as a newly ordained priest, he kept up that pace. Day or night he answered calls with a cheerful grin and genuine concern, but just eight months after receiving Holy Orders — 247 days — Father Dan was called to his eternal home, when an undetected heart condition felled him just eleven days after his 34th birthday.
I decided to write this story of Danny’s dogged run toward his vocation in the hope that it will move other young man to focus on their purpose on this earth.
I pray they will say, just as Father Dan said, “Here I am, Lord. Did you call?” I would like them to pray and to ponder what their Creator desires for them. As Father Jim DiPerri said, “Dan had a deep understanding of the Real Presence of Christ and he possessed the desire to grow in his love for the Lord and for His people”.
Yes, my son Danny’s story is uniquely his own, but yearning to know God’s will is the desire of every heart. That former party animal St. Augustine figured it out around A.D. 400: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
This is the story of the Lord’s persistence in guiding a stubborn young man who was fully engaged with life to turn his long stride toward priesthood. As a college student he entertained the vision of himself as a priest of Christ, but the image faded when he was swept up in the world of work, travel, and play. Yet he remained a faithful Catholic, and he never stopped wondering what God really wanted from him.
When Danny entered the seminary he was 27 years old and still uncertain whether he had a priestly vocation. Indeed, halfway through the program in order to clear his mind he took a leave of absence. After a short leave, fully convinced he was following the will of the Lord, he returned to St. John’s Seminary and, at age 33 was ordained to Christ’s Holy Priesthood.
My view as his father was intimate yet limited, so I called on many of his friends and colleagues to share their insights to round out this story. I am grateful for their help in describing the shy little boy who grew into a confident man, comfortable in any situation, from tailgaters to teaching. He had sharp elbows in a hockey game as well as a sharp wit combined with boundless energy and abundant kindness for everyone.
Danny’s friends need no memoir to recall; his flashing smile, tremendous energy, and genuine interest in everyone he met. My purpose in documenting his life is not merely to describe my son. This is an attempt to demonstrate that the Lord never ceases to draw people to Himself and, he will never stop drawing men to His Holy Priesthood.
Many have asked and still ask: “Why was this joyful young priest granted such a short period of service?” Yes, a penetrating question!
Danny prided himself in giving a firm handshake. Perhaps the answer to this question lies in Francis Thompson’s poem, “The Hound of Heaven,” with Christ’s pursuit of the fleeing soul, who, at last, hears the happiest words of all: “Rise, clasp My hand, and come!” God’s time is not ours, and though we count 247 days as short it was sufficient for Christ to teach my son — and all who knew him — a lesson of joyful, hopeful, and faithful surrender to God’s will. Deo gratias.
Daniel J. Kennedy, Sr.
August 22, 2015
All net proceeds from this book will be donated to the
Father Daniel J. Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Fund
at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, MA.
Additional photos, multimedia and links are available
on the book’s website: www.247days.org.