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Father Bob Kennedy Retires

July 23, 2013

Our beloved chaplain, Rev. Robert T. Kennedy, J.D., J.U.D. (affectionately known to all as “Father Bob”), is retiring after six years of dedicated service to Notre Dame of Maryland University. During his tenure at Notre Dame, Fr. Bob has touched countless members of our community—students, alumnae and alumni, faculty, and staff—with his gentle wisdom, keen intellect, joyful spirit and great kindness.

An expert in canon law, Fr. Bob has had a most distinguished career. A graduate of Holy Cross College and Harvard Law School, Fr. Bob was ordained to the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York in 1959. He then completed a second doctorate in canon and civil law from the Lateran University in Rome. Upon his return to New York, Fr. Bob ministered in three parishes, served as assistant chancellor of the archdiocese, and taught at St. Joseph Seminary. An appointment as chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point was especially meaningful to him.  Beyond New York, Fr. Bob served as a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as a member of the Papal Commission for the Development of Administrative Law in the Church, and, for more than three decades, as the O’Brien-O’Connor Scholar in Canon Law at The Catholic University of America.

Upon Fr. Bob’s retirement from Catholic University, he came to Notre Dame, where his wise and kind presence has made our campus a happier and holier place. His knowledge of canon law and his deep understanding of the Church and its role in the modern world made him a trusted advisor to the University on issues of Catholic identity. But most of us will remember Fr. Bob for his warm pastoral presence. At University events, Fr. Bob was ready with a beautiful blessing that spoke to the hearts and minds of all present. In less formal settings—the dining hall, his office or the playing fields—Fr. Bob was eager to connect with students, so much so that he volunteered to serve as chaplain to the University sports teams!  For Fr. Bob, this unofficial duty meant traveling to away games on the team bus, praying with student athletes before each match and leading fans in spirited cheering for the Gators. Indeed, Fr. Bob extended himself to students, faculty and staff in countless ways, including, most notably, confirming two students in Marikle Chapel of the Annunciation.

In Fr. Bob’s second semi-retirement, during which he will continue to use his pastoral skills in various ways, we hope that he will also have more time to spend with his large and loving extended family, to engage in his many intellectual pursuits, and maybe even to root for that other athletic team he follows, the Boston Red Sox. While I make this announcement today, please look for an invitation to a celebration to take place this fall semester in honor of Fr. Bob and his extraordinary service to Notre Dame of Maryland. In the meantime, we ask that the Lord may richly bless this extraordinary man who has left such an indelible mark on our University.