I was sad yesterday to hear from Prof. Madhukar Shukla, that perennial friend of all alum of XLRI, Jamshedpur, of the passing away of Fr. Joe Kennedy, SJ. He was the Director of XL from 1970 to 1973. May his soul rest in peace.Going to XLRI after college in Chennai (or Madras as it was called in those days) was a bit of a culture shock. There was, of course, already a large contingent of students from the South there but XLRI was not quite as big or well known as it is these days.
At Loyola College where I studied the Fathers of the SJ wore white cassocks and were overall pretty strict. Me and my friends gave them a wide berth. We had no idea what the Fathers in XL would be like. When I got to XL, Fr. Kennedy was the Director. One evening a bunch of us was walking down to Bistupur, the place for an evening out in those far away days, when an old Standard Herald came by. On nearing us someone started firing at us from the car, much to our astonishment. Not firing real bullets but mimicking the noise of a machine gun as children would. It turned out to be a tall balding man who looked like P. G. Wodehouse. Imagine our shock on finding it was none other than our Director, Fr. Joe Kennedy!!
We were extremely lucky to have such a dedicated band of faculty and in particular we benefited from a slew of American Fathers of the SJ there during our times at XL. Father Kennedy was succeeded as Director by another colorful man. Fr. Wm. Tome SJ. We also had Fr. Ed McGrath, now a legend in XL. There were other too like Fr. Keough, Fr. Heffernan,and Fr. McHugh.
Reading about Fr. Kennedy brought back many happy memories of my Alma Mater. Those were fun times. Fr. Kennedy, thank you for all that you taught us. Apart from everything else that you and your team taught us, you taught us to be good human beings.
Farewell, Joe and rest in peace!