The celebration of All Saints and observance of All Souls are just ahead. Among those whom I’ll be remembering in prayer is an acquaintance, a Catholic pro-life journalist named Jack Kenny, who passed away a few weeks ago. I invite you to remember him in prayer as well. I wrote a memorial post over at Leaven for the Loaf. I’d like to share a few excerpts here.
Jack Kenny has succumbed to cancer. He was a Manchester, New Hampshire journalist with broad interests, astringent opinions, and an abiding devotion to the most vulnerable human beings among us.
“…the right to life is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a hell of a subject for neutrality.” (Kenny, New Hampshire Union Leader, 9/13/98)
…He once wrote about a Labor Day breakfast at which then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen was featured speaker. A Catholic priest was honored at the event for his work promoting social justice. Jack raised an eyebrow. “If you think this is ‘single-issue’ fanaticism, ask yourself this: Would [the monsignor] share a platform with someone who advocated racial discrimination or espoused anti-Semitism?…Yet Gov. Shaheen supports, promotes and defends as a ‘right’ the killing of preborn babies. No problem. Organized labor doesn’t care and the monsignor pretends not to notice.”
…Back in the 1990s, “Optima Health” was big news. It was an attempt to link Manchester’s Catholic Medical Center with Elliot Hospital. One of the rocks on which that venture foundered was the revelation of a scheduled abortion at the Elliot, contravening assurances that such things wouldn’t happen under Optima. It was a complex and lengthy story. While all this was going on, Jack wrote about the people who risked jail and loss of livelihood to raise alarms about the danger Optima posed to CMC’s Catholic identity.
…I recall another late-’90s incident that would have been a one-day story if Jack hadn’t helped to keep it out in the open. Pro-lifers were demonstrating peacefully one evening outside a fundraising event for an abortion advocacy group; the Portsmouth police got involved; arrests and a broken wrist ensued. Jack whipped out his pencil and started asking questions of the relevant parties.
“The right to peacefully assemble and protest belongs as much to those protesting abortion as anyone else. Or at least it used to. It can hardly be surprising if a society that no longer respects the right to life becomes indifferent to other rights as well.”
Politics might have been a passion, but Jack knew that his Creator transcended such matters.
A few years ago, the long-shuttered St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Nashua was revived as a parish where the Latin Mass could be celebrated daily. At the very first Mass there, the place was packed with worshippers. There were old-timers from the days when St. Stan’s had been the ethnic parish in the neighborhood. There were people like me who were curious about the Latin Mass. And then there were the people already familiar with the traditional rite, praying with joy, very much at home. Jack was one of those people.
I hardly recognized him when he sat down near me. I had never seen his face in such repose. He had left his political indignation outside the door in order to put himself at the foot of the Cross.
I trust that in God’s mercy, Jack is now surrounded by the innocent souls he defended so ardently. May his repose be complete.