It was with great sadness that the Diocese of Leeds announced the death of Fr Jack Kennedy, at the age of 86, on Wednesday, 25th November at Herncliffe Nursing Home, Keighley.
Jack Kennedy was born in Keighley on 11th February 1934 and was a member of a large extended family, well-known in the town’s Catholic community.
He was educated at St Joseph’s School and St Anne’s School in Keighley, and left school at the age of 15 to work as a woolsorter at a mill in Ingrow.
From 1952-54 he did National Service and trained as a radar operator. In 1956 he joined the Monfort Missionaries to pursue his vocation to the religious life and remained with them for the next 12 years, without proceeding to priestly ordination. Thereafter he returned to Yorkshire and worked in the building trade until, in 1983, he was accepted as a student for the Leeds diocese by Bishop Wheeler and entered the Beda College in Rome.
Fr Kennedy was ordained in his home parish, at St Anne’s Church, Keighley on 19th September 1987. The following month he became assistant priest at St Anthony’s, Beeston where he stayed until 1990. Subsequently he served in the same capacity at St Anne’s Cathedral (1990-91), SS Peter & Paul, Yeadon (1991-93) and St Mary’s, Halifax (1993-95). In 1995 he was appointed parish priest of St Joseph & St Thomas, Goole and in 2001 he moved to St Brendan’s parish at Greengates on the outskirts of Bradford.
He retired from active ministry in 2006 and returned to Keighley, where he resided until his death.
For some years after his ordination Fr Jack assisted with the work of the finance and property office in the Diocesan Curia, where was always a popular presence, and well remembered for cycling from home to the Curial Offices most days, in true Kennedy fashion. At other times, notably on his day off and during holidays, he opted for a different mode of transport, keeping a narrowboat moored at Apperley Bridge on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
Fr Kennedy was a down to earth character, reflecting his roots in industrial Yorkshire and in the strong Catholic community of his native Keighley. His was a late vocation but the realisation of his calling enabled him to serve, with a straightforward dedication, the Bishops and people of the diocese of Leeds for more than 30 years.
Please pray for the repose of Fr Jack’s soul and remember him and his family and friends in your prayers at this time.
Details of the funeral arrangements will be available in due course.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.