Father Jerrold Kennedy
Rev. Jerrold Kennedy, a retired priest of the Diocese of Oakland who proudly referred to himself as being a member of "the home team," died of a major heart attack on Jan. 2 at the age of 72. He had been a priest for more than 46 years.
As news of Father Kennedy's death spread, several people posted comments on Legacy.com about how he had touched their lives. Connie B, a member of Father Kennedy's eighth-grade class from St. Leo School in Oakland, wrote "We will sorely miss him — his kindness, his laughter, but most of all his wit and humor. I believe he also had a talent for remembering everyone he had ever met." Martha O. from Sparks, Nevada, wrote that he was "the epitome of an Irish priest, had a great sense of humor and just a hint of the blarney."
Father Kennedy told The Voice in an interview in 2010 that he was fortunate to have worked with Oakland's first two bishops, Floyd Begin and John Cummins. He said he was especially privileged to have attended to Bishop Begin in the months before his death in 1977.
The priest's service to the dying bishop was not lost on Bishop Cummins. "I was very touched by what he did for Bishop Begin," he said.
Father Kennedy's assignments took him to parishes in both the cities and the suburbs, said Bishop Cummins. "He was extremely versatile and has served all over the diocese."
Born at Oakland's Providence Hospital, Jerrold Francis Kennedy was the second of 10 children born to Dr. William and Mary O'Connell Kennedy. He grew up in Oakland's St. Leo the Great Parish and in Piedmont's Corpus Christi Parish.
He was graduated from St. Joseph's College in Mountain View and St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, and was ordained to the priesthood at Corpus Christi Church on May 26, 1966 by Bishop Begin. Father Kennedy later served as secretary to Bishop Begin and vice chancellor of the diocese before becoming vocations director in 1971, a position that he held for nine years. Some two decades later he became vocations director for a second time.
He also served for five years as director of field education at St. Patrick's Seminary where he was responsible for the placement of seminarians for in-service training. He also served as co-chairman for the re-establishment of the permanent diaconate.
Father Kennedy, an associate pastor at All Saints Parish in Hayward, St. Leo and St. Louis Bertrand parishes in Oakland, also provided leadership in parishes as pastor at Santa Maria Parish in Orinda (1979-1983); Sacred Heart in Oakland (1983-1985); St. Philip Neri in Alameda (1990-1998); and at St. Jerome in El Cerrito (2004-2008). In 2004 he also served as parochial administrator at St. Leander Parish in San Leandro. At the time of his retirement in 2010, he was pastoral associate at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.
Father Kennedy also masterfully emceed at the Diocese of Oakland 40th anniversary event at Oakland's Paramount Theatre, added Bishop Cummins.
In the June 21, 2010 interview with The Voice, Father Kennedy expressed his gratitude for being called to the priesthood and having the opportunity to serve in the diocese as a member of the "home" team. "I've known the diocese as a youngster and lay person," Father Kennedy said. "So to grow up and be a priest of the diocese has been a blessing for me. It turned into a very rewarding life."
Father Kennedy was predeceased by his sister, Rita Wilson, and is survived by his siblings and their spouses: William (MaryAnn), Kevin (Mary Anne), Mary Frances, John Margaret, Brian, Kathleen, Norene Broyles (Kelsey); his nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and -nephews.
The funeral Mass was held at St. Philip Neri Church in Alameda on Jan. 10. The service drew at least 90 priests and more than 600 people, filling the church to overflowing. Rev. Richard Mangini, pastor at St. Bonaventure in Concord, celebrated at the liturgy. Archbishop Alex J. Brunett, the diocesan apostolic administrator, and Bishop Cummins presided.
Father Kennedy was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward.
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