Death of Father James Keenan, S.J.

McQuaid Jesuit is saddened to learn of the passing of Fr. James F. Keenan, S.J., who died on August 13, 2023, he was 86 years old. Fr. Keenan served as McQuaid’s president from 1982 through the first semester of 1988.

When he celebrated his 80th birthday people were asked to describe him in one word.  The words they used most frequently were solid, caring, and compassionate.  There are countless stories of him reaching out to send well wishes on a birthday or anniversary or to offer condolences on the loss of a loved one.

Jim was born on January 9, 1937, in Jackson Heights, NY.  He entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY on August 14, 1956, and was ordained on June 12, 1969, at the Fordham University Church, Bronx, NY.  He pronounced his final vows at Xavier High School in New York City on April 21, 1979.

In addition to his service at McQuaid, Fr. Keenan served at Xavier High School (New York), Canisius High School (Buffalo), St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City), and the New York Nativity Schools; director of the Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau, and most recently as the director of donor relations for the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus. He served on numerous boards including Boys Hope Girls Hope, Canisius University, Fordham University, and St. Peter’s University. He received honorary degrees from both Fordham University and the University of Scranton. In 1995, he was inducted into the Xavier Hall of Fame. Beyond his many positions and accomplishments, Jim was an outstanding priest. He loved celebrating the sacraments with family and friends. He loved his priesthood; he loved the Society of Jesus; and he loved the people of God.

Fr. Keenan is survived by his sisters, Rose and Mary, Mary’s husband, Edward, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, Patrick and Annie (Clarke) Keenan, and his brother, Thomas.

A wake service will take place on Thursday, August 17, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., in Keenan Commons, Fernandez-Duminuco Hall, Xavier High School. Please enter via 15th Street. Fernandez-Duminuco Hall is located at 33 West 15th Street. The entrance is handicap accessible.

 A prayer service with reflections will take place on Thursday, August 17, at 7 p.m., in the Church of St. Francis Xavier. The church will open at 6:30 p.m. and remain open until 9 p.m. after the conclusion of the prayer service. The prayer service will be live-streamed at The handicapped entrance is located at 55 West 15th Street.

The Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, August 18, at 10:30 a.m., at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, 55 West 16th Street. The Very Rev. Joseph O’Keefe, S.J. will be the principal concelebrant. Fr. Vincent Biagi, S.J. ’67 will preach the homily. Fr. Thomas Feely, S.J. will give the final commendation. The Mass will be live-streamed at

After the Mass, all are invited to a luncheon reception in the Xavier High School gymnasium, 30 West 16th Street. All are welcome.

Burial will be at a later date in the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville, New York.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Rev. James F. Keenan, S.J. Scholarship Fund at Xavier High School or the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus.

Notes of Condolence can be sent to Jim’s sisters:

Rose Fitzsimmons-Capezza

35-42 80th Street Apt 2

Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Click Here to view a video produced by Xavier High School to celebrate Father Keenan’s 80th birthday.

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