Jesuit Father T. Frank Kennedy died on August 19, 2016 at Campion Center in Weston, Massachusettes. He was 67.
Fr. Kennedy was born on September 12, 1948 in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1966, he began school at the College of the Holy Cross. There, his relationship with the Jesuits flourished and after his freshman year, he entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1967. He began studying philosophy and classics at Boston College.
During his years as a novice, Fr. Kennedy was influenced by Jesuits who were interested in exploring how artistic interests related to vocation. As a result, he went on to earn a masters of fine arts in harpsichord and baroque performance at Tulane University, followed by his doctoral dissertation in musicology at the University of California Santa-Barbara on the muscial traditions of early Jesuit colleges and churches in Europe. He was ordained May 30, 1976, at the College of the Holy Cross and pronounced final vows on June 12, 1986.
After six years as a professor of music at the College of the Holy Cross, Fr. Kennedy returned to Boston College as one of the two tenure-track faculty members in the Univesity’s new music department. After four years he became director of the program and also held the position as Peter Canisius Professor of Humanities and Music.
Fr. Kennedy harbored a keen interest in the growth and development of early Jesuit music and its role in early Jesuit missions. He conducted grounebreaking scholarly work in South American and European archives to uncover the history of “mission music” and its diverse forms.
In 2006, Jesuit Superior General Hans Kolvenbach requested that Fr. Kennedy produce a performance of the opera “San Ignacio de Loyola,” which he transcribed, at the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of St. Ignatius.
In 1991, Fr. Kennedy had staged another Jesuit opera, “The Apotheosis or Consecration of Saints Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier” – first performed in Rome in 1622 to celebrate the canonization of the two Jesuit saints – as part of the 1991 Ignatian Year.
As a board member and then director of the Jesuit Institute from 2002 to 2014, Fr. Kennedy played a major role in promoting and supporting the emerging field of Jesuit studies. In 2008, Fr. Kennedy was appointed rector of St. Mary’s Chapel at Boston College, and during his six-year term he administered the community’s relocation during the renovation of St. Mary’s Hall.
In 2014, Fr. Kennedy became a senior research fellow at Campion Hall in Oxford University, where he continued his studies on the history of Jesuits and music until health issues forced him to return to Boston.
At the BC Arts Festival in 2016, Fr. Kennedy was presented with the BC Arts Council Faculty Arts Award, which recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the arts at Boston College through scholarship, the presentation of artistic work, teaching and/or community engagement.
Praising his “profound” efforts to promote Jesuit culture in Western artistic practice, Fr. Kennedy served as a member of the University Board of Trustees, the Provost Committee on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, The Church in the 21st Century “From Crisis to Renewal” forum and the “Religion and the Arts” editorial board, among others. He also chaired the University Commission for Christian Art, which commissioned mosaics of Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and Dorothy Day in Lyons Hall; four outdoor sculptures, including one of St. Ignatius Loyola.
Fr. Kennedy is survived by his two brothers, Peter and Steven, and three sisters, Kristin, Tracy, and Isabel.