Finian Kerwin, OFM
1924 – 1991
Fr. Finian Kerwin, OFM, was born on Dec. 25, 1924, in New York City. After high school, he served in the United States Navy for three years and then entered Fordham University in the Bronx to study business.
He was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., Aug. 11, 1951, and professed temporary vows Aug. 13, 1952. Fr. Finian made his profession of solemn vows Aug. 16, 1955, and was ordained a priest Sept. 8, 1955.
Fr. Finian’s first assignment was to St. Joseph Church in Bainbridge, Ga., where he ministered for three years. In 1959, he became an assistant at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City and remained there for the next 32 years. In 1964, Fr. Finian was appointed pastor at 31st Street church, and three years later he was elected Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province, an office he held until 1976.
During the post-Vatican II years of change and confusion, Fr. Finian provided the friars of Holy Name Province with dynamic leadership and a Vatican II understanding of the world and the Church. He was a recognized leader in the renewal of American religious life.
His influence extended to the entire Order, as he was an appreciated participant in the General Chapters of Medellin and Madrid. Fr. Finian guided Holy Name Province with competence, optimism and boundless energy.
Fr. Anthony Carrozzo, OFM, Provincial Minister at the time of Fr. Finian’s death, reminded the friars that God gave the Province Fr. Finian to “provide hope in the midst of despair, conviction in the midst of doubt and wisdom that guided us in the midst of foolishness.”
From 1976 until his death, Fr. Finian served as the promoter of the Missions and director of the Franciscan Missionary Union. In the face of opposition, he urged and supported the establishment of independent provinces and custodies in every mission of Holy Name Province.
He served on the boards of trustees at St. Bonaventure University, Christ the King Seminary, Siena College and Washington Theological Union. Fr. Finian also on the boards of directors of St. Anthony’s Guild, St. Francis Friends of the Poor and the Canon Law Committee of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.
He died in St. Vincent Hospital in New York City on July 31, 1991. Fr. Finian was 66 years old, a professed friar for 38 years and a priest for 35 years.