Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 5, 2009
Social Justice permeates Kennedy's life
Redemptorist gave 60 years as a priest, served as an alderman, sits on commissions
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Being a great communicator, Redemptorist Father Ed Kennedy had two distinct career paths in mind as a young man.
"I thought that I would become either a priest or a lawyer," said Kennedy. "My father said to me one time talking to him about it, that I could manage either because I certainly had the gift of the gab - that's an old expression.
"I said I'd try the priesthood first and if I make it, that's wonderful. If I don't, then I'd like to be a lawyer."
Kennedy, 84, definitely "made it" as a priest. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1949 after studying at the University of Western Ontario and St. Alphonsus Seminary in Woodstock, Ont. A celebration was held at St. Alphonsus Church Sunday, Sept. 27 to mark his 60th anniversary as a priest. It was at St. Alphonsus that Kennedy started serving when he came to Edmonton in 1953.
INVOLVED IN CITY
His name is well-known among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Aside from his many priestly duties, he served as alderman for the City of Edmonton from 1974-1980.
"I got interested in social justice issues, and was invited to join the Edmonton Social Planning Council. That's really where I got involved in the city, and the development of the city, and I was especially interested in lower to middle income areas. It was a time of a lot of things happening in Edmonton," explained Kennedy.
The planning of LRT routes, the Commonwealth Games, and River Valley preservation were all hot-button issues during his two terms as alderman.
"I found myself accepted at City Hall. I never ran into any overt hostility to me as a Catholic. The Catholic Church has been well respected in Edmonton, and I never found any anti-Catholic sentiments expressed to me."
Vatican II brought about major change for all priests, including Kennedy. Vatican II and You was a program that went across the archdiocese, preparing Catholics for the many changes that were happening.
WELCOMED VATICAN II
"I was a priest for about 15 years before Vatican II, and then I saw the reforms and it was very exciting. I was very happy working as a young priest, with the opportunity to reach out to people. The laypeople were upping their responsibility, and the same with Development and Peace and other programs, they were all exciting initiatives," he said.
Kennedy became director of the Catholic Information Centre and director of the marriage preparation courses offered from there. He was president of the Edmonton and District Council of Churches, and chairman of the archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission. He assisted with adult education programs, the Cursillo movement and Engaged Encounter.
"Those kinds of programs, which were all out of Vatican II, were formation. You were able to help people form a Catholic mind and work for the common good," he said.
CLOSE TO HIS FLOCK
Looking back, he finds that the most rewarding aspect of his priesthood was being a pastor because he was close to people.
"It's very exciting because there's so many things you can do if you've got the energy and the interest. I was interested in art and architecture and preaching. So I think being a pastor, it had such a wide scope," he said.
He left Edmonton for Vancouver, where he lived for 12 years. Only recently has he returned, and continues helping out at local parishes and celebrating Mass from time to time at nursing homes.
He also stays active on the Social Planning Council and Quality of Life Commission.
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