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Eugene C. Kennedy Papers

Identifier: KNN

Scope and Content

This collection consists of materials related to the life and career of Eugene Kennedy, including correspondence, subject files, notes, speeches, writings in various stages of development, published books and articles, photographs, audio and video recordings, and items of ephemera or realia. Topics of note include counseling, psychology, the Association of Chicago Priests, Catholicism and the Catholic priesthood in the second half of the 20th century, American bishops, and Chicago politics in the 1970s and 1980s. Materials are present in the following formats: manuscripts, letters, photographs, objects, videotapes, audiocassettes, DVDs, open reel audiotapes, CD-Rs, VHS, motion picture film, phonograph records, and objects.


  • Creation: 1905-2019
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960 - 2010


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research, however:

Box 28, folders 1 through 16 are RESTRICTED until 2065.

Box 28, folder 17 is RESTRICTED until 2052.

Box 28, folders 18 through 21 are RESTRICTED until 2046.

Box 28, folder 22 is RESTRICTED until 2042.

Box 28, folders 23 and 24 are RESTRICTED until 2032.

Box 78, folder 16 is RESTRICTED until 2065.

These materials are non-circulating. Contact reference staff for details.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


Eugene Cullen Kennedy (August 28, 1928 - June 3, 2015) was a psychologist, award-winning writer, syndicated columnist, and professor emeritus of Loyola University Chicago -- a laicized Catholic priest and a long-time observer of the Catholic Church. The work of Eugene Cullen Kennedy spans many genres. He published over 50 books that include two biographies, three novels, and a play, as well as books on psychology, on the Roman Catholic Church and on the relationship between psychology and religion.

Eugene Cullen Kennedy was born in Syracuse, New York, on August 28, 1928, to second-generation Irish parents, James Donald Kennedy and Gertrude Veronica Cullen. His father was an executive with the King Kullen Grocery Company, the family-owned supermarket chain founded by Kennedy's uncle, Michael J. Cullen, and his mother was a homemaker. During the 1980s, Kennedy became a consultant to King Kullen and a member of the Board of Directors, positions he held until his death.

Raised in Long Island, Kennedy graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, NY, in 1946, after which he entered the Maryknoll Seminary in Maryknoll, NY. From that institution, Kennedy received a B.A. (1950), S.T.B (1953) and M.R.E. (1954). Following his ordination to the priesthood on June 11, 1955, he was instructor in psychology at the Maryknoll Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA, before beginning graduate studies in psychology at The Catholic University of America where he obtained an M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1962).

Kennedy was professor of psychology and counselor at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, from 1960 until 1971. He was Professor of Psychology at Loyola University of Chicago from 1969 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1995. Kennedy was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and served as President of Division 36 (1975-1976) where he led a resurgence of phenomenologically-based research into religion. His Catholic Priest in the United States: Psychological Investigations (1972) co-authored with Victor J. Heckler is considered a landmark study that was prescient of the sex abuse crisis that broke into the public's awareness in 2002.

Kennedy left the priesthood in 1977 and married Sara Charles, M.D. They had homes in Chicago and Michigan. Kennedy first gained renown among Catholic audiences in 1965 with the publication of his first book, The Genius of the Apostolate, which he co-authored with Paul D'Arcy, M.M. In 1967, Kennedy published Fashion Me a People, which won the Catholic Book Award, an award he again won in 1968 for his third book, Comfort My People.

During the 1970s, Kennedy published twenty-five books. His diversified interests and talents are evident in the titles of some of the works of that decade: In the Spirit, In the Flesh (1971), The Return to Man (1973), and Believing (1974) represent his ongoing concern with the Church; Living With Loneliness (1974), On Becoming a Counselor (1977), and Sexual Counseling (1977) reveal his interest in psychology. These were followed by St. Patrick's Day with Mayor Daley (1976) and Himself! (1978), a biography of Mayor Richard Daley, both represent Kennedy’s interest in Chicago. Himself! won both the Thomas More Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to Catholic Literature in 1978" as well as the Carl Sandburg Award (1978) for the best non-fiction by a Chicago author.

During the 1980s, Kennedy co-authored Defendant with his wife, Sara Charles. He published three novels: Father's Day (1981), which was awarded the Carl Sandburg Award for the best fiction by a Chicago author in 1980-1981; Queen Bee (1984); and Fixes (1989). He also authored the PBS special one-man play, I Would Be Called John, based on the life of Pope John XXII, and featuring Charles Durning in the title role. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Kennedy continued to publish, including a biography of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, This Man Bernardin (1996), and reflections on his relationship with the Cardinal, My Brother Joseph (1997). Kennedy also published Authority (with Sara Charles) (1997), The Unhealed Wound (2001), and his last, Believing (2013), which won a Catholic Book Award First Prize from the Catholic Press Association.

In addition to publishing books, Kennedy also lectured widely and wrote articles in numerous publications, newsletters, including columns for the Chicago Tribune, Religious News Service, and the National Catholic Reporter’s "Bulletins from the Human Side." He was awarded the Wilber Award in 1987 by the Religious Public Relations Council for his New York Times Magazine article, "A Dissenting Voice." At the time of his death, Kennedy was working with co-author Sara Charles on the 4th edition of On Becoming a Counselor which was published in 2017.


112 cubic feet (84 record storage boxes, 9 document cases, 1 half document case, 87 audiovisual items)


Original order has largely been preserved. Because files were generated by type of writing and included all supporting material, a folder for any particular work may contain up to four document types: printed copy, manuscript, notes, and correspondence. Separate correspondence files represent any correspondence which Kennedy did not directly relate to a particular work. The collection is arranged according to the files generated by the type of writing. There are five such series: publication files, unpublished materials files, correspondence files, subject files, and a duplicate manuscript series. Each series is further broken down into sub-series. Original order has been respected where office and personal filing systems were evident and defined; otherwise, order has been imposed. The arrangement of series according to type of writing is an order imposed by the archivist.

Material accessioned after 1992 is unarranged and filed by accession date at the end of the manuscript series of the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was received from Eugene Kennedy in 1982, after having been transferred from the Archives of Rosary College. Additional accessions were made from 1984 to November 1986.

There have been many later accessions.

Related Material

Related collections within the University of Notre Dame Archives include: Commonweal Records, National Federation of Priests' Councils Records, John J. Egan Papers, National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company Records, Our Sunday Visitor Records, and Sheed & Ward Records.

Processing Information

The collection was processed from June, 1986 to December, 1986. Collection was reprocessed from 2018-2022, with the assistance of Sara Charles Kennedy, to describe unprocessed accessions and better identify unsigned, untitled, or sensitive content.

Eugene C. Kennedy Papers
University of Notre Dame Archives
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Finding aid updated 2022

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Archives Repository

607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame Indiana 46556 United States
(574) 631-6448