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Memory Eternal! + Fr. James Kenna

Archpriest James Kenna, 74, of St. Sophia in Dripping Springs, TX, was fatally injured in an automobile accident on Sunday, July 26th 2009. Services for Fr. James will be held at St. Sophia on Tuesday July 28 and Wednesday July 29th; see below for further details, or visit St. Sophia's web site.

Condolences may be sent to Khouriya Anne and the Kenna family c/o the Dean of Central Texas, Fr. David Barr of St. Elias Church in Austin, TX, at

From the Austin American Statesman:


The Rev. James Kenna was an energetic Dripping Springs pastor who founded several Orthodox Christian parishes in Central Texas and, even in retirement, was looking to establish more.

"He never wanted to quit," said the Rev. David Barr, the pastor of St. Elias Orthodox Church in Austin. Kenna, 74, died Sunday afternoon in a car wreck on his way home from lunch with a parishioner after attending church in Dripping Springs. Austin police officials said Kenna's PT Cruiser left Texas 45 for an unknown reason, crashed into a fence and flipped over into a retention pond.

Phones rang constantly Monday at St. Elias, as parishioners called to confirm the news, said William Attal, the choir director and chairman of the parish council at St. Elias. Father James, as Kenna was known, served for more than 20 years there before retiring in 2002.

Attal said Kenna's retirement was "in name only, because no sooner was he retired than he started establishing a mission in Dripping Springs."

Most recently, Kenna was the pastor and founder of St. Sophia Orthodox Church in Dripping Springs.

Born in Philadephia and raised in New Jersey, Kenna joined the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in the late 1960s, when he converted from the Episcopal Church, his daughter Siobhan Kenna said.

James Kenna was the pastor of Orthodox Christian parishes in New Jersey and Florida before coming to Texas.

Kenna leaves behind his wife of almost 51 years, Anne, four children and three grandchildren.

Clergy from across the country were traveling Monday to attend Kenna's funeral services, said Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Wichita and Mid-America.

Basil will be officiating Kenna's services, including a special funeral service for priests at 7 tonight, an overnight reading and other services at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Sophia.

Basil said Kenna was "instrumental" in starting parishes in Fredericksburg, Cedar Park and San Antonio, as well as a Greek and an Ethiopian parish in Austin.

"Certainly by God's help, but he did all of that," Basil said.

Kenna's dedication led him to do what it took to make sure things got done at his parishes, even once repairing a leaky roof himself, Attal said.

"No job was too menial for him," he said.

Kenna drew new parishioners to the Orthodox Christian faith, Barr said.

"He's been really loved," Barr said. "The priests really loved him. He was always fun to be around, but he was also someone who said things straight."

Siobhan Kenna said that's what her father did.

"He was all about bringing the word and making sure people could worship," she said.

The schedule of divine services for Fr. James is as follows:


7:00 PM The Funeral Service for a Priest at:

St. Sophia Church
225 Rose Drive
Dripping Springs, TX 68720
Telephone:  512-471-2756


10:00AM Concelebrated Divine Liturgy followed by The General Funeral Service at:
St. Sophia Church
225 Rose Drive
Dripping Springs, TX 68720
Telephone:  512-471-2756

The Final Trisagion Prayers of Mercy and Burial will be at:

Onion Creek Memorial Park
11610 Chapel Lane
Austin, TX 78748
Telephone:  512-282-3893