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WEST ROXBURY -- The newly renovated student commons at Catholic Memorial School (CM) in West Roxbury, an all-boys college preparatory school, was dedicated to late alumnus Father Dan Kennedy '92 during a special ceremony May 18.
"It's wonderful that CM has not forgotten this man who loved the school so much and that who received so much here," said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley in his homily during a Mass celebrated at the school prior to the dedication ceremony.
Father Kennedy's "short, short life had such an impact on us," he said.
Father Dan Kennedy was 34 and in seemingly good health when he died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart defect on Jan. 27, 2008. He had been ordained just 247 days before, on May 26, 2007 by Cardinal O'Malley.
"Spiritual writers talk about the Second Call," said the cardinal in his homily. "They say there are moments in our lives when we are called again -- to renew our commitment, to embrace our vocation, to walk closer to the Lord."
"I felt, that for many of us, Father Dan Kennedy's death was like that second calling. It was something that moved people so profoundly and called on us to take stock of our own lives, to see how we were answering to the call that Father Dan answered so generously and so joyfully," he continued.
Father Kennedy's chalice was used during the Mass, which was held in CM's gymnasium and attended by the entire school community, as well as the family of Father Kennedy.
Silver and shining, the chalice was actually designed by Father Kennedy with "CM in mind," said Dan Kennedy, the father of the late priest, speaking to The Pilot following the day's events.
"The colors for CM are red and silver, and the chalice is silver and (Father Kennedy) had a red band across the stem of the chalice, in recognition of the wonderful experience and joy" he had at the school, he continued.
Recently renovated and redesigned, the Kennedy Commons is located directly underneath the gymnasium. At the dedication ceremony held in the commons following the Mass, CM president Peter Folan described the space as a new life for Father Kennedy.
"It's a way for our boys to see a model of faith, a man of faith in action, to see daily, to be inspired by, to see his faith as they are walking through this community," he said.
The area will "serve as an inspiration to our boys, to this faculty, to alumni, to this community. I can think of no higher gift to our school," he continued.
The school hopes to raise $500,000 to cover the entire cost of the renovations. Alumnus parents Barbara Finigan and Paul Fitzgerald, inspired by Father Kennedy's life, took the lead in the funding project. Both spoke during the dedication events.
Cardinal O'Malley blessed the common area surrounded by Father Kennedy's family and friends, CM faculty and a number of CM students.
Dan Kennedy said to The Pilot he is "grateful to Catholic Memorial and the benefactors for this honor that they've attributed to my son."
"His entire life was dedicated to showing the love he had for Christ to other people," Kennedy said. "He radiated joy, he truly radiated an inner joy, and it was infectious. People he encountered always felt better when he was with him."
Kennedy wrote a book about his son's life called "247 Days," which was published in 2016.
"If you could describe (Father Kennedy) in two words, you'd say that he was confident and enthusiastic," he said. "Confident comes from the Latin 'with faith,' and enthusiasm is in God. He lived his life like that, with faith in God."