Joseph I. Hennessy was born in Ireland in 1939 to parents, Patrick and Mary Ellen (O'Sullivan). Ordained in June 1963 at St. Patrick's College in Carlow, Ireland, his faith was burnished in the upheaval that arrived with Pope John XXIII and Vatican II. His goal? Survival in a new environment that was edging away from rigidity toward the challenge of inclusion; from strict directives to a kinder, gentler community. The change meant drama, trauma and finally transformation. Hennessy likens the seismic shift to an imaginary roller coaster at Disneyland -- full of twists and turns over a 50-year span but ultimately worth the ride.
From the Blarney Stone
I came from a mixed marriage, both politically and spiritually. My mother Mary Ellen came from County Cork and was a relative of Michael Collins. My father Patrick was born in County Clare which was a hot-bed of support for DeValera-Michael Collins' opponent, to put it mildly. My mother was a deeply religious person and grounded me in the fundamentals of our Cathoic faith and traditions. Dad was a man who enjoyed the fullness of life and gave me the precious gift of wonder. Dad had the wonderful ability to look at life with excitement and he was especially drawn to places of natural beauty. When my friends came visiting to Ireland, his great joy was to take the and introduce them to these places; mostly hidden away off the beaten track. My mother loved to read and books became my friends at a very early age. The first books I remember reading were adventure stories and in time I settled into my favorite genre which is westerns. My early favorite author was Zane Grey so I traveled the Mogollan Rim long before I came to Arizona. In these latter years, I have begun to delvelop deeper and deeper and enjoy more and more the richness and comfort of Catholic spirituality. It is now my home. I am beginning to understand what a wealth of spiritual richness is in the Celtic Catholic understandings, prayers and beliefs. These understandings and beliefs are so relevant and offer us so much meaning for us today as we are becoming more conscious of the need to respect and preserve God's creation. Isn't it great that the world becoming greener and greener?