Top Boston College grad joining the Jesuits

Top Boston College grad joining the Jesuits May 20, 2012

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.

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