Robert Justin Hennessey, O.P.
Born: May 22, 1929
Professed: September 15, 1950
Ordained: June 8, 1956
Died: December 7, 2003
Father Robert Justin Hennessey, O.P., a Dominican friar of the Province of St. Joseph, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease in the evening of December 7, 2003, at Mohun Health Care Center, under the care of the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs in Columbus, OH. Father Hennessey, who was 74 years old, was born the youngest of seven children of John Patrick and Mary Frances (Gordon) Hennessey, in New Lexington, OH, and was raised in Zanesville, OH, where he attended the Dominican parish and school of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Father Hennessey entered the Order of Preachers after attending the University of Dayton (OH), at St. Rose Priory in Springfield, KY, in 1949, where he professed religious vows in 1950. He prepared for ordination at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Dominic’s Church in Washington on June 8, 1956. He pursued graduate studies in Philosophy and Theology at the Catholic University of America, and later as a Research Fellow at the Yale University Divinity School. Most of Father Hennessey’s life as a Dominican was taken up with teaching Theology, in particular his specialty, the Theology of Grace, on the Dominican faculties in Washington and at the Angelicum in Rome, and on the faculties of St. Mary Seminary in Cleveland, OH, and Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.
Father Hennessey served the Dominican Province of St. Joseph as Regent of Studies, Prior and Pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in New York City, and finally as Prior of St. Thomas Aquinas Priory at Providence College (RI), where he also taught on the faculty. Because of failing health, he was assigned in the fall of 2000 to the Mohun Health Care Center in Columbus, where he continued as long as he was able to tutor students in Theology at Ohio Dominican College.
Following a wake and the Office of the Dead, the Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday, December 11, at St. Patrick Church in Columbus, OH, at 10 am. The Provincial, V. Rev. Dominic Izzo, O.P., was celebrant at the Mass of Christian Burial and Rev. Tim Myers, O.P., was the homilist. Burial followed in the Dominican Friars’ cemetery at St. Joseph Church in Somerset, OH.