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Fr. Finian Kerwin, OFM


Fr. Finian Kerwin, OFM, was born on Dec. 25, 1924, in New York City. Educated in public schools, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and graduated from Fordham University in 1950 with a degree in accounting.

One of the many military veterans who joined the Order in the post-war years, Fr. Finian was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., Aug. 11, 1951, professing first vows the following year. He made his profession of solemn vows on August 16, 1955, and was ordained a priest on September 8 of that year.

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 pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, which was to remain his home for the rest of his life. In 1964, Fr. Finian was appointed pastor of the West 31st Street church, and, three years later, was elected Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province, an office he held until 1976.

During the period of tumultuous change following the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Finian provided the friars of Holy Name Province with energetic, optimistic, and forward-looking leadership. He was thoroughly committed to a post-conciliar understanding of the Church’s mission in the modern world. The Province became one of the founding members of the Washington Theological Union, created retirement houses in St. Petersburg, Boston, and Butler, NJ, and embarked on a number of creative new social ministries

Fr. Finian was a recognized leader in the renewal of American religious life. His influence extended to the entire Order, as a significant participant in the General Chapters of Medellin and Madrid.

From 1976 until his death, Fr. Finian served as director of the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union. In the face of opposition, he urged and supported the establishment of independent provinces and custodies in the missions of Holy Name Province in Japan, Bolivia, and Brazil.

He served on the boards of trustees at St. Bonaventure University, Christ the King Seminary, Siena College and Washington Theological Union. Fr. Finian also was on the boards of directors of the Province’s St. Anthony’s Guild and St. Francis Friends of the Poor as well as the Canon Law Committee of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

He died in St. Vincent’s 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.