Fr. Kennedy Chosen to Lead Jesuit Institute

Fr. Kennedy Chosen to Lead Jesuit Institute

Music chairman will succeed Fr. Buckley at end of academic year

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

A priest noted for reviving Jesuit early music has been chosen to lead the scholarly institute that fosters Boston College's Jesuit identity.

T. Frank Kennedy, SJ, stands in front of the Jesuit Institute's offices at Faber House. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
Assoc. Prof. T. Frank Kennedy, SJ '71, a specialist in the early Baroque period who chairs the Music Department at Boston College, has been appointed director of the Jesuit Institute.

He succeeds Canisius Professor of Theology Michael Buckley, SJ, who is stepping down after a decade as institute director to return to teaching and writing on the Theology faculty.

Fr. Kennedy was chosen by University President William Leahy, SJ, from among finalists recommended by a search committee headed by Vice President and Special Assistant to the President William Neenan, SJ.

A longtime member of the institute's advisory board, Fr. Kennedy will become director at the close of the academic year. He will continue to serve as Music Department chairman for the time being, he said.

"Jesuit. Catholic. Faith. Culture. Those are important words for the mission of the institute," said Fr. Kennedy.

"I hope to broadcast a message of openness that the Jesuit Catholic tradition has always meant to BC, the kind of openness that encourages finding answers to the eternal questions of the human identity."

Fr. Neenan said: "Fr. Kennedy will be an excellent director of the Jesuit Institute. He has been a member of the advisory committee for years, and he has been associated with major programs sponsored by theinstitute. His interests are catholic with a small 'c.'"

The Jesuit Institute, founded in 1988 with an initial gift from the BC Jesuit Community and a matching gift from the University, seeks to advance the Jesuit and Catholic calling of Boston College by promoting inquiry into questions that emerge "at the intersection of faith and culture."

More than 100 faculty participate each year in seminars hosted by the Jesuit Institute, which also underwrites research fellowships, projects in literature and the arts, and various conferences and lectures.

Fr. Kennedy said he hopes to broaden the international scope of the institute, perhaps through partnerships with Jesuit universities in Latin America. He also sees a role for the Jesuit Institute in commissioning works of art, as it did in sponsoring the composition "Mass for the Holy Year 2000" by Prof. Thomas Oboe Lee (Music).

"We can touch the human person and discover that transcendent identity that is part of all of us," he said.

To an institute known for weighty theological discourse, Fr. Kennedy brings a unique background as a music historian who has rediscovered and brought to the stage long-neglected Jesuit operas of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Two early Jesuit operas revived by Fr. Kennedy have been recorded in a double-CD set, tentatively titled "Two Baroque Operas: The Jesuit Style," to be released in February 2002 under the Dorian label. One is "The Apotheosis or Consecration of Saints Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier," an opera in five acts first performed in Rome in 1622 to celebrate the canonization of the two Jesuit saints, and re-staged by Fr. Kennedy at BC during the 1991 Ignatian Year.

The other, "San Ignacio Loyola," dating to the 1720s Jesuit missions of Paraguay, was staged by Fr. Kennedy at BC during a 1997 conference on early Jesuit contributions to culture and art.

Fr. Kennedy recently authored an essay on sung catechisms used by Jesuits in the 16th and 17th centuries. The essay will be included in a festschrift honoring noted Jesuit historian and former Gasson Professor John O'Malley, SJ, an organizer with Fr. Kennedy of an upcoming conference at BC on Jesuit religious and cultural history.

The conference, "The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540-1773," scheduled to take place June 5-9, is a sequel to one hosted by the Jesuit Institute in 1997 that was marked by fresh appraisals of Jesuit history.

That first gathering led to an 872-page book, The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts: 1540-1773, by Frs. Kennedy and O'Malley and former Jesuit Institute fellows Gauvin Bailey and Steven Harris. The publisher, University of Toronto Press, has expressed interest in a similar volume following the upcoming conference, according to Fr. Kennedy.

Fr. Kennedy currently is transcribing and editing two historic Jesuit chamber operas, and expects to stage at least one at the conference next June.
Fr. Kennedy studied harpsichord in receiving his MFA degree from Tulane University. He did his doctoral dissertation in musicology at the University of California-Santa Barbara on the musical traditions of early Jesuit colleges and churches in Europe.

He has since gone on to study the extension of that musical tradition in the far-flung territories visited by early Jesuit missionaries. His articles on the Jesuit musical tradition have been published in such journals as Studi Musicali, Latin American Music Review, and Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu.

"I think I'm a pretty standard Jesuit in terms of the research that interests me," he said.

"I always remember what Fr. Monan said about Boston College," said Fr. Kennedy, referring to University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, who was president at the time of the institute's founding. "There are kinds of research that are really appropriate for us as a Jesuit, Catholic school. I really believe that."


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