In Memoriam: Rev. Joseph J. McKenna, OSFS

Rev. Joseph J. McKenna, OSFS, 89, a professed Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 69 yearsdied on May 14, 2018 at Christiana Care.

“Fr. McKenna was a devoted priest, whether in the classroom or as a chaplain in the hospital,” Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS, provincial, said.  “He was admired for his deep commitment to service, especially as a retired priest. He always had energy to care for the sick.  We Oblates admired his willingness to work hard, even though he was retired.  He will remain a great role model for us all.”

Fr. McKenna, son of the late John L. and Anna (Somers) McKenna was born in Philadelphia in 1929.  He attended Ascension of Our Lord Parish School, and graduated from Northeast Catholic High School in 1947. Following graduation, he entered the Oblate Novitiate and made his first profession of vows in 1948.  Fr. McKenna earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Niagara University and a Master of Arts in History from the Catholic University of America. He completed his studies for the priesthood at De Sales Hall School of Theology in Hyattsville, MD.  He was ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 1957, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, by Most. Rev. Hubert J. Cartwright, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington.

Following ordination, Fr. McKenna taught at Northeast Catholic and Father Judge High Schools in Philadelphia, PA, and St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo, OH.  During his ministry in secondary education, he served as vice-principal, dean of studies, department chairperson, athletic director, and track coach.  

In 1983, Fr. McKenna was the registrar at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, now De Sales University, in Center Valley, PA., until 1992 when became chaplain at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, and in 1998, at St. Francis Hospital, also in Wilmington.

In addition to his Oblate religious community, Fr. McKenna is survived by Frank Hauser, brother-in-law, and Winifred McKenna, sister-in-law, and many nieces and nephews, and their children and grandchildren. Siblings John, James, Francis, Charles, Mary Nulty, Nancy Hauser, and Marguerite McKenna predeceased Fr. McKenna. 

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, May 18, 11:30 AM, at St. Ann Church, 2013 Gilpin Avenue, Wilmington, DE, 19806.  A viewing will precede the Mass from 9:30 AM to 11:15 AM.  Interment to follow the Mass at the Oblate Cemetery, 1120 Blue Ball Road, Elkon, MD, 21921.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the Oblate Development Fund may be sent to 2200 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE, 19806.