Eugene Cullen Kennedy (August 28, 1928 – June 3, 2015) was a psychologist, award-winning writer, syndicated columnist, and professor emeritus of Loyola University Chicago. A laicized Catholic priest and a long-time observer of the Catholic Church, the work of Eugene Cullen Kennedy spans many genres. He has published over 50 books that include 2 biographies, 3 novels, a play, as well as books on psychology, on the Roman Catholic Church and the relationship between psychology and religion.
Early life and education
Eugene Cullen Kennedy was born in Syracuse, New York, on August 28, 1928, to second generation Irish parents, James Donald Kennedy and Gertrude Veronica Cullen. His father was an executive with the King Kullen Grocery Company, the family-owned supermarket chain founded by Kennedy’s uncle, Michael J. Cullen, and his mother was a homemaker. During the 1980’s, Kennedy became a consultant to King Kullen and a member of the Board of Directors, positions he held until his death.
Raised in Long Island, Kennedy graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, NY in 1946 after which he entered the Maryknoll Seminary in Maryknoll, NY. From that institution, Kennedy received a B.A. (1950), S.T.B (1953) and M.R.E. (1954). Following his ordination to the priesthood on June 11, 1955, he was instructor in psychology at the Maryknoll Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA before beginning graduate studies in psychology at The Catholic University of America where he obtained an MA (1958) and PhD (1962).
Kennedy was professor of psychology and counselor at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois from 1960 until 1971. He was Professor of Psychology at Loyola University of Chicago from 1969 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1995. Kennedy was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and served as President of Division 36 (1975-1976) where he led a resurgence of the phenomenologically based research into religion. His Catholic Priest in the United States: Psychological Investigations (1972) co-authored with Victor J. Heckler is considered a landmark study that was prescient of the sex abuse crisis that broke into the public’s awareness in 2002.
Kennedy left the priesthood in 1977 and married Sara Charles, M.D. They had homes in Chicago and Michigan.
Kennedy first gained renown among Catholic audiences in 1965 with the publication of his first book, The Genius of the Apostolate, which he co-authored with Paul D’Arcy M.M. In 1967, Kennedy published Fashion Me a People, which won the Catholic Book Award, an award he again won in 1968 for his third book, Comfort My People. During the 1970s, Kennedy published twenty-five books. His diversified interests and talents are evident in the titles of some of the works of that decade: In the Spirit, In the Flesh (1971), The Return to Man (1973), and Believing (1974) represent his ongoing concern with the Church; Living With Loneliness (1974), On Becoming a Counselor (1977), and Sexual Counseling (1977) reveal his interest in psychology; and St. Patrick’s Day with Mayor Daley (1976) and Himself (1978), his biography of Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, that won both the Thomas More Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to Catholic Literature in 1978” as well as the Carl Sandburg Award (1978) for the for best non-fiction by a Chicago author, represent his interest in Chicago.
During the 1980’s, Kennedy co-authored Defendant with his wife, Sara Charles. He also published 3 novels: Father’s Day (1981), that was awarded the Carl Sandburg Award for the best fiction by a Chicago author in 1980-1981; Queen Bee (1984); and Fixes (1989). He also authored the PBS special one man play, I Would Be Called John, based on the life of Pope John XXII featuring Charles Durning in the title role.
During the 1990’s and into the new century, Kennedy, continued to publish including a biography of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin,This Man Bernardin (1996),and reflections on his relationship with the Cardinal, My Brother Joseph (1997). Kennedy also published Authority (with Sara Charles)(1997), The Unhealed Wound (2001), and his last, Believing (2013), that won a Catholic Book Award First Prize from the Catholic Press Association.
In addition to publishing a number of books, Kennedy also lectured widely and wrote articles in numerous publications, newsletters, and columns for the Chicago Tribune, Religious News Service and the National Catholic Reporter’s “Bulletins from the Human Side.” He was awarded the Wilber Award in 1987 by the Religious Public Relations Council for his New York Times Magazine article, “A Dissenting Voice.”
At the time of his death, Kennedy was working with co-author Sara Charles on the 4th edition of On Becoming a Counselor slated for publication in May 2017.
- The Genius of the Apostolate. With Paul D'Arcy. 1965.
- Fashion me a people: man, woman, and the church. Sheed and Ward, 1967.
- Comfort My People, 1968.
- The Pain of Being Human. Ratna Sagar, 1972. ISBN 81-7108-372-2
- The Catholic priest in the United States: psychological investigations. with Victor J. Heckler. United States Catholic Conference, Publications Office, 1972.
- The New sexuality: myths, fables, and hang-ups. Doubleday, 1972
- The Heart of Loving. Argus Communications, 1973. ISBN 0-913592-19-6.
- The Trouble Book. Thomas More Press, 1976. ISBN 0-88347-064-0.
- Believing. Image Books, 1977. ISBN 0-385-12614-X.
- Authority: the most misunderstood idea in America. with Sara C. Charles. Free Press, 1997. ISBN 0-684-83665-3.
- My Brother Joseph: The Spirit of a Cardinal and the Story of a Friendship. St. Martin's Griffin, 1998. ISBN 978-0-312-19515-1.
- On becoming a counselor: a basic guide for nonprofessional counselors and other helpers. with Sara C. Charles. Crossroad Pub. Co., 2001. ISBN
- The Unhealed wound: the Church and human sexuality. St. Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 0-312-26637-5.
- Cardinal Bernardin's Stations of the Cross: Transforming Our Grief and Loss Into a New Life. St. Martin's Press, 2004. ISBN 0-312-28306-7.