Catholic Vocations
Archdiocese of Melbourne
Testimonies, Men Religious
Fr Kevin Hennessy CP

1. What is the name of your Order?

The symbol of the Passionists represents a Cross planted in the heart. The words in the centre are “the Passion (or sufferings) of Jesus Christ. The olive and the palm surround the sign as the symbols of peace and victory.

2. What is the particular charism of your Order?

The Charism of our Order is that the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts. Members of the Passionist Congregation are women and men who are passionate about people, about God and about prayer. Passionists have a passion for life and live life in community. The Congreationo f the Passion, a Catholic congregation of priests and brothers, was founded to pay about the Passion – the sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus, and to preach it to others. In our reflections, Passionists focus on the love, mercy and compassion of our God.

The Passionists were founded in Italy in the 18th century by Paul Daneo or, as he came to be know, St Paul of the Cross. In 1843 a group of Passionists came from Italy as missionaries to the Aboriginal community at Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Brisbane.

In 1887 Passionists came from England and Ireland to the parish of St Brigid’s in Marrickville, NSW. Later foundations were made in South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria. A mission has since been established in PNG. Passionists are also involved in the life of the Church in NZ.

Passionists are wherever the love and compassion of Jesus might bring hope and healing.

3. How long have you been a member of the Order?

I was professed a Passionist on 9th January 1970 – just over 40 years. I was ordained a priest at St Mary’s Geelong on 29th November 1975 – having now been 35 years a priest. I have worked in seven countries – Australia (24 years), New Zealand (for part of each of the last 14 years), Papue New Guinea (11 years), Indonesia, India, Philippines and the Solomon Islands, giving retreats and workshops to Religious and Priests.

4. What or who influenced you to join the Order?

The Passionists had a retreat centre in Geelong and as a secondary student I went there for my school retreat. I had a great talk with a priest who powerfully spoke to me through his humanity and encouraged me to consider being a priest and to follow Christ. I wanted to be a policeman, married with children. So I decided to take the risk to begin training as a priest knowing that I could change my mind. I am glad I am a Passionist Priest today.

5. What are the special joys of being a Religious sister/brother?

Living in Community is a great support, especially with a life like St Paul the Apostle, as I travel so much. Coming home working, praying and celebration life and the Eucharist in a community of great men is so inspiring.

6. What particular challenges/problems do you face as a Religious?

In today’s world Religious men and women are not seen by society as people of significance, as they may have been in the past. We are seen by many who do not know us as being irrelevant. But as St Paul says, in our weakness there is our strength. In this time of rapid change on all levels of life, the Church has a Spiritual and Prophetic stance to take. With the influence of the Holy Spirit I feel positive about the future. Young people will respond. Religions life may be smaller in numbers but is dynamic in its nature. Priesthood has an essential part in our Church and presence in the world.

7. What advice would you give to a young person discerning their vocation?

To young people – be people of prayer, seek spiritual help on the way to develop a strong friendship with Christ. Continue to be open to what vocation God is calling you to – priesthood, marriage, religious life or the single vocation. It is God’s call and our openness to respond. Be people open to change, disciplined in study, strong in belief. Be motivated to be a contributor in bringing about a better world.

Vocations Twitter