The Rev. Hugh A. Kennedy, a Jesuit priest who in his 45 years in the administration of the his religious order was known as its Maryland "corporate memory," died of pneumonia Sept. 6 at Manresa Hall in suburban Philadelphia. The longtime Roland Park resident was 90.
Born in Braddock, Pa., he was a graduate of St. Vincent's College Prep School in Latrobe, Pa. Friends said he developed a lifelong affection for Gregorian chants and church music while being taught by the school's Benedictine priests.
In 1935 he entered a different order, the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. He was educated at the old Woodstock College in Baltimore County and taught Latin and English and was band moderator at Georgetown University from 1942 to 1945.
"He told me he was probably the only Benedictine Jesuit we have in the province," said a fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Henry Haske of Scranton, Pa.
He was ordained a priest in 1948 and had additional study at St. Beuno's College near St. Asaph in Wales. Father Kennedy then began teaching Latin and French and training Jesuit seminarians at the order's St. Isaac Jogues Novitiate in Wernersville, Pa. He held several posts, including rector of the community.
While teaching the seminarians, he took up ice hockey one Christmas vacation and surprised his students by playing out the rest of the winter season.
"He was a wicked ice hockey player and we were shocked to see him on the ice," said the Rev. Thomas Roach, another Jesuit colleague.
Friends said that he worked on improving the quality of its choirs, teaching the art of polyphony to the seminarians. He also organized a rendition of the Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" for Easter one year. He remained a music lover and sang in Baltimore's Handel Choir. He also performed with Baltimore's Gilbert and Sullivan company, the Young Victorian Theater Company. He appeared in the "Mikado" and other operettas.
In 1962 his order called him to Baltimore as its associate administrator - his actual title was that of socius, a Latin term literally meaning or ally or comrade He worked at a newly built Jesuit Provincial Residence on Roland Avenue where he helped direct the priests and brothers assigned to Jesuit parishes, high schools, college and universities in the Mid-Atlantic area. He was considered an expert in composing letters in Latin and in corresponding with Jesuit officials in Rome.
He held the post until 1980. He remained on the Province Curia and was secretary to the provincial from 1980 to 1996 and assistant province secretary from 1996 to 2007. He served nine provincials.
"He could write the history of the province. He knew everything that came in or went out. If we had been sitting of a piece of land since 1940, he would know where the deed was," said his friend, Father Haske.
For many years, Father Kennedy also offered a weekly Sunday Mass at St. Agnes Church near Westview.
He was known for his well-prepared sermons, but one Sunday, he forgot to bring his notes and he preached extemporaneously. At the end, the congregation clapped.
"Although most of his life was spent in the office, he knew everybody," said the Rev. William J. Watters, pastor of St. Ignatius Church on Calvert Street, where services were held Friday.
Friends said that Father Kennedy also remained friendly with those who resigned from the priesthood over the years and maintained correspondence with them.
"He was the corporate memory of the Maryland Province," said the Rev. James Casiotti, a fellow Jesuit.
In 2007, because of failing health, he left Baltimore and moved to Manresa Hall in Merion Station, Pa.
Survivors include a brother, Dr. James Kennedy of Davis, Calif.; and three nieces.