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In Memoriam

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John A. Hennessy, SJ, who died on May 8, 2024 at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwautosa, Wisconsin. He was 89 years old. May he rest in peace.

John is survived by his sister Ann Hurteau. He is preceded in death by his brothers: Philip Hennessy, Paul Hennessy, David Hennessy and James Hennessy, and his sisters Mary Hennessy and Esther Fuess.

John was born in Oneida, New York, on November 28, 1934. He served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in South Korea before he entered the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus on September 3, 1958 at the Jesuit Novitiate in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He was ordained a priest on May 27, 1969 and pronounced final vows on August 15, 1986 at Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

While in the Society, John earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (1964) and a master’s degree in sociology (1970) from St. Louis University.

During regency, John taught geography and religion at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota (1965-1966). After ordination, he returned to Holy Rosary Mission where he taught theology (1970-1976) and was an associate pastor (1970-1979). John spent four years living at the Abbey of the Genesee in Genesee, New York, discerning if God was calling him to a more contemplative live style as a Trappist monk (1979-1983).

After confirming his vocation as a Jesuit priest and returning to the Wisconsin Province, John then spent over two decades performing pastoral ministry. He was the pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Graceville, Minnesota (1984-1990), a chaplain at the Benedictine Priory in Norfolk, Nebraska (1990-1994), the pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Martin, South Dakota (1994-2004), and a chaplain at the Carmelite Monastery in Traverse City, Michigan (2004-2008). In 2008, John was missioned to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community to pray for the Church and the Society and perform pastoral ministry.

John was a devoted priest who took his prayer and faith very seriously. He was quiet lived like a monk, and spent many hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament. On the day before John died, Fr. George Winzenburg, SJ, told him the story of a common man who, when asked why he sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament, said, “I look at Him, and He looks at me.” John smiled at this.

John enjoyed robust health for most of his life. He had aches and pains but was very private about them, and he declined most requests for medical care. 

John enjoyed traveling to New York (by train or bus) to visit his many siblings and their families. He was an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers — his stocking cap, blanket, and rugs in his bathroom bore the team’s logo.