Top Boston College grad joining the Jesuits

A great vocation story from the Boston Globe:

Dan Kennedy will graduate from Boston College on Monday, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and the recipient of the school’s most prestigious prize, the Edward H. Finnegan Award.

Winners of the Finnegan, given to the student who best exemplifies the BC motto, “ever to excel,’’ tend to go big – top grad schools, Wall Street, overseas fellowships. Kennedy is planning to give away his computer, recycle his Blackberry, and move to a modest communal house in St. Paul, Minn.

He will get $75 a month for incidentals. He will have no romantic relationships. He will go where his superiors ask him to go, and do what they ask him to do. If all goes well, Kennedy – “Dan-o’’ to his friends – can hope to be ordained a Jesuit priest in 2023.

Entering a religious order straight out of college is rare these days, particularly for a standout student at an elite school. One or two graduating BC seniors enter seminary each year, but never in recent memory has a Finnegan winner done so.

“Um, I could never see Dan-o on Wall Street,’’ Shannon Griesser, a junior, said, laughing. “I’ve never met such a kind human being, to the core.’’

Kennedy is no hermit, though. The 22-year-old and his three roommates are weekend regulars at popular student hangouts like Moogy’s restaurant and Mary Ann’s bar. As he walked around campus last week, iPod-wearing guys in shades and flip-flops slapped him five.

But he is hardly a “laxbro,’’ either, as one of his theology professors, Stephen Pope, quipped. (The term is slang for a lacrosse-obsessed frat brother.)

Medium height and solidly built, the bespectacled Kennedy keeps his room in military order, his comforter neatly folded, paper clips and pens exactingly arrayed in his desk drawer. He uses words like “unitive,’’ as in, “There’s nothing more unitive than enjoying a meal together.’’ There is no self-consciousness in his voice when he talks about his motivation for becoming a Jesuit: “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ.’’

“It’s the love I feel from God, and how I want to reciprocate that,’’ he said.

At the 10:15 p.m., Mass at Corcoran Commons last Sunday, Kennedy tended to his duties as sacristan in a faded green shirt, khakis and Crocs. He could scarcely take a step without someone hugging him or clapping him on the shoulder, and he stopped, again and again, to reciprocate. He radiated affability but spoke quietly, drawing privacy from the noise of the crowd.

“There’s a thing at BC called the ‘BC lookaway,’ where you meet somebody out or in class or you see them on campus, and you kind of look at your phone or look away,’’ said Dave Cronin, a senior. “Dan-o does not do the BC lookaway. He calls you by name. He knows who you are.’’

“And it’s never ‘Hi,’ and keep walking. It’s ‘Hi, how are you?’ ’’ said Brian Palumbo, also a senior. “You can tell he actually wants to know.’’

Read it all.


  1. Barbara P says:

    Dan-o sounds like a great person! I have a list of twenty somethings that I pray for including my own two – Dan-o is now officially on that list. May the Holy Spirit be with him always.

  2. A few observations:

    The Jesuits may not have as many novices as they once did, but Dan Kennedy is an example that they have not dropped their standards along the way. One can only wish him the very best as he discerns his life’s vocation.

    The story of his friend Florence Candel reminded me why we have and need lots of different catholic universities- and not just the handful of so called pure schools championed by the CNS and the like. How many people like her would he have met had he attended at Steubenville or Ava Maria? Few, if any at all, is the only honest answer. Our world, and yes even our catholic world has a lot of Florence Candel’s. Dan’s response to her, and his ability to even have her sincerely participate in a small group an examens at days end in his room, indicates a unique gift to bring God to all.

    May St Ignatius & St Frances Xavier pray for Dan Kennedy.

  3. pagansister says:

    Hope he finds it to be what he expects. Maybe we can find out in 2023 if he gets thru the training.

Leave a Comment