Brother Charlie Kennedy
CINCINNATI—Brother Charles Kennedy, 78, a Glenmary Home Missioner for almost 50 years, died Jan. 11, 2008, at the Glenmary residence here. The son of Daniel and Frances Kennedy of Elmira, N.Y., Brother Charles was born Daniel and took the name Charles when he professed his Oath to Glenmary in 1958. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Maryknoll Seminary in 1951 prior to entering Glenmary in 1954. During his years with Glenmary, Brother Charles worked as a music consultant and in music ministry at Glenmary missions in North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky.
For 14 years he served as assistant house director at Glenmary’s Headquarters in Cincinnati, where his duties included maintenance and grounds care. In 1987 he was assigned as the pastoral associate to Glenmary’s St. Jude mission in Glennville, Ga., where he lived until moving to Cincinnati in 2007. St. Jude was returned to the Diocese of Savannah for continued pastoral care in 2005 but Brother Charles, then a senior member, chose to stay in the area and to continue his ministry at St. Jude and the nearby Glenmary missions in Claxton and Pembroke.
“He was an extraordinary man who in spite of setbacks, illnesses and challenges met life in a positive and optimistic way,” said Father Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary. “He was a man of great accomplishment and deep faith.”
He was an accomplished musician who brought his love of music and his musical talent to his ministry. After gaining his bachelor degree in sacred music from Manhattanville College, he served as Glenmary’s music consultant from 1969 to 1971.
The new position was a response to Vatican II which called the laity to be more involved in the liturgy and Brother Charles wanted to help with that transition. As a consultant, he traveled to the Glenmary mission sites to “meet with each parish and interested laity to help familiarize them with some of the more recent trends in Church music,” according to a 1969 letter from then president Father Bob Berson.
Brother Charles, trained in Gregorian Chant, said in a 1986 article in Glenmary Challenge magazine that Vatican II changed his approach to liturgical music. “There was no more Latin and, consequently, no more chant,” he said. “Truly, some beautiful hymns have come out of that change. They do just what music is supposed to do—help us pray!”
He continued his music ministry throughout his almost 50 years as a home missioner. When he returned to Cincinnati in 2007 he often played the organ during Mass at Our Lady of the Fields Chapel.
He also had a love of magic and entertained audiences in all his mission assignments. He found his magic and music helped break through many barriers and served as a way to meet the local people and introduce himself—and the local Catholic Church—to them.