Men of prayer, preaching and intelligence: Passionist participation in the Catholic Theological Society of America: A memorial essay--Father Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P. (1914-2004)
by Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P.
|Father Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P.|
Summer is a pretty slow time for historians. School is out. Procrastination usually wins over research and writing. On the afternoon of July 15, 2002 this atmosphere was changed by an email inquiry from Professor Jeff Marlett, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies at The College of St. Rose, Albany, New York. He wanted to know if the Passionist Historical Archives had information on the extensive role played by Father Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P. in the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA)—this for an upcoming 60th anniversary history in 2006. Quickly, I emailed him back and told him we had limited correspondence and that Father Hennessy resided, in good care, at Mont Marie Health Care facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts where he had been in a partial coma for a decade.
Invoking the historian's right to be a detective, in the Fall of 2003 I took a study day at a library and looked up past issues of the Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America in order to learn more about Father Gus' participation. Plans for the CTSA began in 1945. After a series of planning meetings, an inaugural meeting was held June 25 & 26, 1946 at the Hotel Commodore, New York City. I came to understand that Fathers Hennessy and Aloysius McDonough, C.P. were prominent members in the first decades of the CTSA.
Sadly, as I was composing this newsletter essay I received word that Father Hennessy died on Holy Thursday, April 8. On April 13 I attended his funeral. This article now honors his memory. A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to visit him. He was strong. However, eyes that once sparkled at the chance to engage in a Thomistic debate were now vacant. Still, he was a witness to the passion of Jesus.
May this essay on Passionist participation in the CTSA invigorate us Passionists and friends of the Passionists to contemplate the place of the intellectual life in Passionist ministries and the Catholic Church, especially in the United States. Unless otherwise noted, all individuals cited below are Passionist priests.