When Msgr. Edward Kennedy came to St. Stephen, Pennsauken, in 1971, I was a rookie policeman who was not a practicing Catholic. We had just moved into our new home when then Fr. Kennedy came knocking at the door. It was a random visit as he was knocking on all the doors to introduce himself and meet all the people in the neighborhood regardless of religion. He was invited in.
The walls were still bare and windows without shades. He ended by hearing my confession in the basement. It was renewal of my faith and the beginning of a good friendship.
Many times I would seek his counsel and help when a member of the parish came in contact with the law. He was never too busy to help. Once during such a time my language was strong. Apologizing and hoping not to have offended him, he smiled and reminded me he had been a bartender. He then told me to calm down and remember I was a gentleman.
While having lunch at the rectory with him and a couple of other priests, he asked me to say grace. I thanked God for the food and good friendly priest to share blessings with, through Jesus Christ. One of the priests, smiling at Pastor Kennedy, said, “Ed, how is it yours aren’t that short?” I felt honored to be in their company with a feeling of kinship.
I cannot say enough to express my feelings of his goodness. The Church has put to rest a faithful servant. I will always have memories of a good man and priest I called friend.
Richard R. LaMarra
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