As an early visionary of Catholic Studies at St. Thomas, Bishop Arthur Kennedy was honored at the 30th anniversary celebration with the Catholic Studies Priest-Scholar Award. He was also recognized as a lifelong friend of this first-of-its kind program.
Dr. John Boyle, department chair, had the distinct privilege of introducing the man who helped set Catholic Studies on its path in 1993.
In speaking of the earliest days of the interdisciplinary program, Boyle noted that Kennedy deeply understood there are fundamental dynamisms of reality at work and reflected in the intellectual life.
“There is a unity that should characterize intellectual life and university life that points to a transcendental horizon that connects all knowledge and faith. And no one, in those early days, articulated these dynamisms as clearly and as deeply as Arthur did.”
But it wasn’t just about the articulation. It was about modeling it. Kennedy was a man recognized among his colleagues as a priest and scholar. He united a spiritual vitality with an intellectual quest that permeated the whole of life.
On accepting the award, Kennedy recalled his arrival in the Theology Department and his early collaborations that were foundational in the development of Catholic Studies. Together with Dr. Don Briel, they imagined the creation of the great universities of Europe that began with faith.
“You begin with a sense of what it means to love God and to be loved by God. You begin with a sense of support. You begin with a sense of Divine Wisdom. And now we began to see a new way. This is what Catholic Studies became.”
In addition to his faculty tenure on the St. Paul campus, Kennedy identified the property in Rome that would eventually become the Bernardi Campus, home to the Catholic Studies semester in the Eternal City. And he connected Catholic Studies to Dr. Liz Lev, a world-renowned art historian who has guided hundreds of Catholic Studies students through the churches and museums of Rome and opened their eyes to the reality of the faith in art.
Kennedy served as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston from 2010 until his retirement in 2017. The Bishop Arthur Kennedy Endowed Scholarship Fund provides essential funding for undergraduate students pursuing a major or minor in Catholic Studies.
This story is featured in the winter 2024 issue of Lumen.