ARLINGTON, Texas — As a former high school history teacher, Thomas Kennedy has a deep appreciation for studying the past.
But as a newly ordained priest for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Father Kennedy also has gratitude for the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.
Father Kennedy, the new parochial vicar for St. Mary the Virgin Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas, was ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church on Aug. 29, following his ordination to the transitional diaconate on Aug. 15. Bishop Michael F. Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth presided at both ordination Masses. Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Ordinary for The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, was present at Father Kennedy’s ordination to the priesthood.
Father Kennedy was an Anglican priest for 30 years before resigning his orders in January 2013. Grateful for the faith formation he received as an Anglican, he spent several years growing in appreciation and love for the Catholic Church, particularly the way “it guards the faith, embodied in the Sacraments which come from our Lord,” he said.
Becoming Catholic was “the culmination of everything I have ever believed come to fruition,” he said. “I hope I can give back as much as I’ve received since becoming Catholic.”
His life in ministry began after earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and English from Texas Tech University, followed by four years of teaching history at Bell High School in Hurst, Texas. He attended Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin after his years as a history teacher. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1982 and went on to serve at churches across the South, from Biloxi, Mississippi to Mineral Wells and Henrietta, Texas.
Over time, Father Kennedy and his wife, Chyrel, found themselves increasingly drawn towards Catholicism. Under the guidance of Father Chuck Hough, III — a longtime friend who was one of Father Kennedy’s colleagues at Nashotah House — and Father Timothy Perkins, pastor at St. Mary the Virgin, the Kennedys were received into the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Aug. 6, 2013.
In his free time, Father Kennedy enjoys reading, particularly about the Church. “Your Life is Worth Living” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen and “Catholicism” by Los Angeles Bishop-elect Robert Barron are among Father Kennedy’s favorite books.
Though he currently resides in Henrietta, Father Kennedy will make a 106-mile commute to serve the parish community at St. Mary the Virgin until he and Chyrel can make the permanent move to Arlington.
“I’m very happy to be Catholic,” Father Kennedy said. “I don’t think about what I’ve left behind, but what I have come to. My job is to help others make that leap to embracing the fullness of the faith and help them love it as much as my wife and I — and all who come into the Catholic Church — love it.”
The Kennedys have three adult children who also reside in Texas.
Thomas Kennedy is ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Michael F. Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth on Aug. 15, 2015.