Fr. Edward Kennedy, CSsR

Fr. Edward Kennedy, CSsR

February 9, 2015

Redemptorist Father Edward Kennedy will be remembered as a Vatican II priest who cared deeply about the common person.

"I remember him very well. He was a very friendly man, a very kind man and a very intelligent man," says Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, one of Kennedy's many friends.

"He loved people. He worked for people. He was somebody who was committed to helping the common person."

Kennedy died Jan. 20 from pneumonia. He was 89.

MacNeil said it was Kennedy's desire to help improve people's lives that led him to become a member of Edmonton city council, where he served two terms.

"He was a great challenge to people who probably had lots of wealth and were not at all concerned about the average worker. So he was very much in the same line as Pope Francis in his concern and love for the poor."

In more than 65 years as a priest, Kennedy served as teacher, pastor, alderman and founding member of the Western Conference of Priests and of the archdiocesan ecumenical commission. He was also the first priest to serve as chair of the Edmonton and District Council of Churches.

"I'll remember him as a Vatican II priest who understood instinctively the openness for the Church that the Second Vatican Council was calling for," said Douglas Roche, founding editor of the WCR and a former federal MP and senator. "So Ed Kennedy stood for an open Church – a Church open to all and involved in the community."

Kennedy was born March 24, 1925 in The Pas, Man., one of four children. Inspired by his uncle Kenneth, a Redemptorist priest, Edward also joined the Redemptorists at a young age, taking his first vows Aug. 15, 1944. He did his seminary studies in Woodstock, Ont. and was ordained a priest there June 29, 1949.

Armed with a teaching degree and postgraduate studies in English from the University of Toronto, Kennedy taught English for 10 years at St. Mary's College, a Redemptorist College in Brockville, Ont. His love of language, literature, art and teaching were lifelong traits.

In 1963 Kennedy came to Edmonton to serve as associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish. He ended up becoming director of the Catholic Information Centre of the Edmonton Archdiocese, serving in that position for 14 years.

He also served six years as an elected alderman as part of the urban reform movement URGE. In 1980, Kennedy became pastor of St. Joseph's Parish in Grande Prairie.

He served in that position until he was elected provincial superior of the Edmonton Province of the Redemptorists. He was provincial for three consecutive terms, from 1984 to 1993.


For the next 12 years, Kennedy was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Vancouver. He retired in 2005 at age 80 but continued to be active in community life upon his return to Edmonton with organizations such as the Social Planning Council.

"I liked him very much; we were good friends," MacNeil said. "He was someone who loved the Church."

Roche said Kennedy became involved in ecumenical work in an effort to reach out to the non-Catholic world.

"That's why he became so well respected by people of other faiths and, in my view, it led to (his) being elected as a councillor in the Edmonton city council," Roche said. "He had an appeal that transcended any one religion."


As an alderman, Kennedy got deeply involved in promoting social justice.

"I have excellent memories of him. He was one of my first friends," Roche said. "He supported the WCR and supported the ideas that the paper was trying to put out in the early days when people were still trying to discover what the Second Vatican Council was all about."

Kennedy was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery Jan. 26, following his funeral Mass at St. Alphonsus Church.