When I first met fellow board member Jim Kenneally he was teaching a newly developed course, The History of the Black Man in America at Stonehill College more than 40 years ago. It was an interesting and timely course for the early 1970s. He quickly became my favorite professor. He was interesting, intelligent and inclusive as a professor and as I learned many years later he is the same away from the lecture hall.
Jim has been distributing food every Wednesday at The Charity Guild food pantry for the last 10 years. He first heard of the Guild from St Patrick’s parish when he inquired about donating his recently deceased brother-in-laws clothes. Past president Mari Jo Martin gave him a tour of the thrift shop and food pantry and asked if he would like to volunteer. He has missed very few Wednesdays since. When I asked him what makes him continue week after week he replied, “I find it rewarding. It makes me realize how fortunate I am.” He also enjoys the comradery of fellow volunteers Roy LeBlanc and Joe Ritucci.
Volunteering in the food pantry is not the only volunteer work Jim does for The Guild. As a board member Jim handles the Memorial Fund. He revised the employee handbook with board members Pegge Lange and Susan Nicastro. He is currently working on the history of how The Charity Guild came to be in the early 1970s. He is calling former Guild members for an oral history as well as looking through decades of old records to get the story right.
Jim has always believed in helping his community and his country. He joined the Air National Guard in 1951 and was on active duty during the Korean Conflict and in Germany during the building of the wall dividing East and West Berlin. He proudly served in the Air National Guard for 33 years. Believing in an open and frank dialogue between people of different faiths and cultures brought him to initiate the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Series with Rabbi Werb from Temple Beth Emunah in Brockton. It began with the coming together of CCD and Hebrew School supervisors to discuss Vatican II documents as they pertain to Catholic and Jewish faiths. This dialogue continues today at the Martin Institute at Stonehill through the annual Kenneally Lecture in Jewish-Christian Relations. This honor was earned through Jim’s hard work and the belief in the importance of practicing your faith. Stonehill College welcomes a leader in interfaith dialogue to lead this lecture every year.
Jim and his wife Louise have been married for 67 years. They currently live in Easton after having lived in Brockton for many years. They have two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren of whom they are very proud. Jim walks daily for exercise. If the weather is inclement you’ll find him at Westgate walking the mall.
I’m pleased that our paths have crossed again. The Charity Guild is so very fortunate to have such a dedicated volunteer as Dr. James Kenneally, Jim, helping make our mission possible.
Barbara (Sullivan) Janelli ’72
Republished from The Charity Guild of Brockton’s newsletter, Summer 2015