James Keenan, OFM
1879 – 1968
Fr. James Keenan, OFM, was born on Aug. 8, 1879 in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. He was baptized at the Franciscan church on Sullivan Street there, and was the last friar of our Province to be received into the Allegany, N.Y., Custody. He entered the novitiate in 1897, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in Rome in 1901, less than one month after the establishment of Holy Name Province, and was ordained in 1903.
His first assignment was to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., where he served until transferring to St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., for one year. Fr. James then went to St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, where he taught mathematics.
After ten years in the classroom, he became a parish priest. The list of places where he lived and worked in the following places: St. Anthony Friary, guardian and pastor at St. Bonaventure Parish, Paterson, N.J., guardian and pastor at St. Patrick’s Parish, Buffalo, N.Y., guardian and pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Butler, praeses and pastor at Holy Cross Parish, the Bronx, N.Y., St. Joseph Parish, Winsted, Conn., St. Francis Parish, Wanaque, N.J., Sacred Heart Parish, Rochelle Park, N.J., pastor at St. Francis Parish, Beach Haven, N.J., St. Francis Parish, New York City, St. Raphael Friary, Lafayette, N.J., St. Mary’s Parish, Providence, R.I., and Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.
Fr. James was elected to the Provincial Council in 1931. He lived to be the senior friar of Holy Name Province, and served friars and people with genuine zeal and dogged determination for 70 years. On the occasion of his golden jubilee of profession, he urged his fellow friars to “conduct themselves at all times and in all places as a son of St. Francis.” His entire life was marked by generosity, gratitude, and his deep love for God.
He died on Dec. 2, 1968 at St. Anthony Friary, Butler. Fr. James was 89 years old, a professed friar for 70 years, and a priest for 65 years.