Remembering Rev. Msgr. Philip Kennedy

Remembering Rev. Msgr. Philip Kennedy



Msgr. Philip Kennedy died April 5th. Phil and I were in seminary together for a short time. I was struck by his maturity and wisdom. I didn’t see him again until years later at the funeral of my cousin near Alliston, where he’d been pastor. It was then that he told me of his assignment to CMIC. The next contact was his invita­tion for me to speak at CMIC’s annual St. Philip Neri luncheon. In the summer issue of our 2006 magazine, he wrote of childhood memories of missionaries and wanted to emulate them “encountering a new com­munity of the People of God, learning their customs and lan­guages, sharing the precious gifts of the Gospel, and teaching their brothers and sisters in imitation of Jesus himself.” Ten years later in the same magazine, he wrote, “In every mission, I learned about the people and their cus­toms and their faith journies.”

Thank you, Phil, for your dedication to our missions.


Father Kennedy stands in front of map of Canada in Catholic Missions In Canada office.




Father Philip loved classical music. And staff at Catholic Missions In Canada could always tell when it was Friday afternoon because about 3:00 p.m., music coming from his corner office was generally turned up a notch—heralding to all that the weekend was near.

To staff at Catholic Missions In Canada, Monsignor Philip Ken­nedy will always be remembered as Father Philip. And it was always especially appropriate when music coming from his office on those otherwise quiet Friday afternoons was any piece inspired by birdsong because he loved nature and all of God’s creatures.

I think that’s why he cranked up the sound system on Friday afternoons. In his own quiet and thoughtful way, Father Philip wanted us to enjoy the wondrous beauty of God’s creation sur­rounding us.

Father Kennedy at St. Theresa mission church in Blanc Sablon, Quebec.

Father Philip knew the vast­ness of our country. As President of Catholic Missions In Canada, he’d travelled across much of it, visiting missions to celebrate Mass, ministering the sacraments and just offering his peaceful, pastoral presence in communities without a resident priest.

He loved his ministry. He had a missionary heart and was devoted to our missionaries and their needs, to the people they minister among, and to rever­ently and joyfully sharing the Gospel—no matter the cost.

His fortitude knew no bounds; even recovering from illness and before retiring, his determination to make a last mission trip was deterred only when his doctor vetoed the plan.

The news of his passing came suddenly and too soon. As staff, we’d looked forward to visiting him this summer, to hear of his annual visit to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, to talk about his garden and ask after any new cats he might have adopted —and which Shakespeare char­acters he’d named them after!

Father Kennedy at Immaculate Heart of Mary mission in Teslin, B.C.

We share the response of one of our donors who, after being told of his passing, expressed her sympathy and then after a few seconds of silence, said “Oh, he’ll go straight to heaven.”

Whether he was showing us his newest cup for our kitchen mug collection, happily beaming at our staff Christmas parties or helping us with our work, Father Philip had a gentle and child-like sense of wonder and joy about him. Leslie Gyulay, employee of the Archdiocese of Toronto and son of Patricia Gyulay, CMIC’s outreach officer, captured that when he said, “I can picture Father Philip in heaven right now; his eyes wide and shining; he’s just looking around thinking, “Wow…!”

We at Catholic Missions In Canada thought of ourselves as Father Philip’s family in Toronto. He was certainly part of ours.