Kenan Morris, OFM
1922 – 2011
Fr. Kenan Morris, OFM, was born on June 24, 1922 in Medford, Mass., and baptized John. He was educated at local parochial and public schools in Arlington, Mass. After graduating from Arlighton High School in 1939, he attended Tufts University for two years, before entering St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1941.
He was received into the Order in 1944 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., taking the religious name of Kenan. He professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1948, and was ordained in 1950.
His first assignment was as a missionary in the Province’s commissariat in Goiás, Brazil, from 1951 to 1954. Fr. Kenan returned to the U.S., serving several pastoral assignments at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, St. Catherine’s Parish, Clarksville, Va., and St. Anne’s Parish, Fair Lawn, N.J.
Fr. Kenan then served as chaplain in the U.S. Air Force from 1962 to 1975 at a number of bases in the nation and overseas, including Vietnam. He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was awarded the Bronze Star in 1968 and the Meritorious Service Medal in 1973. That year, he also became the first chaplain to be awarded the Marroon Beret with the Para-Rescue Badge.
Following his release from active duty, he spent a year of continuing education at the Washington Theological Union, residing at Holy Name College in Washington. Fr. Kenan devoted the remainder of his ministry to pastoral work with young adults. From 1976 to 1977, he served as chaplain and on the faculty of the Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn.
From 1977 to 1979, he worked in campus ministry at the Catholic Student Center at the University of Florida, while assisting at St. Augustine Parish in Gainesville, Fla. Finally, he enjoyed a long service as campus minister at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., from 1979 to 1995. During this time, he earned a master of divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif.
He died on Nov. 30, 2011 at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. Fr. Kenan was 89 years old, a professed friar for 66 years and a priest for 61 years.