December 24, 2014 — There’s something precious stored in a desk drawer at the offices of the Northeast Province Jesuits in New York City: Jesuit Father James Keenan’s black book. The book contains his hand-written records of the 600-plus marriages, anniversaries and baptisms he has presided over for friends and relatives in his 45 years as a priest.
The 77-year-old Jesuit saves a memory of all the sacraments he has celebrated, sacraments that have enabled so many people to lead richer lives, grow in the Spirit and become more fully Catholic.
Fr. Keenan has dedicated his life to putting the ideals of St. Ignatius into practice, serving lengthy tenures as president of Xavier High School, McQuaid Jesuit High School, Canisius High School and Saint Peter’s Preparatory School, as well as the New York City Nativity Schools.
Along the way, he has left his indelible mark, ministering with a selfless sense of compassion and love and providing pastoral support to all those he encounters.
In 2008, Fr. Keenan joined the province staff, extending his personal, caring presence to the Society’s supporters and helping them see the clear connections between their generosity and the many needs of the province.
As director of donor relations, Fr. Keenan corresponds with donors, sends gift acknowledgements and fundraising letters and provides vital help in editing province publications.
From the moment he finishes his morning commute via public transportation and arrives at work, his phone rings with calls from friends and province supporters who know him as a dear friend, a cherished loved one, the family priest or lifetime spiritual advisor.
“It’s the people who make the job,” Fr. Keenan said. “Many people who support the Jesuits share so generously in other aspects of their lives. So many tell me that they want to do more for others, and it is a tremendous gift to be able to listen to them and help them live out their faith and grow closer to Christ.”