Reverend Monsignor James Patrick Keaney

The Reverend Monsignor James Patrick Keaney, 87, a retired priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, died Monday, October 17, 2011, at his residence in Southern Pines, NC. Father Keaney was born in Arlington, MA on May 14, 1924. He served in the U. S. Army during WWII. After his discharge he was accepted at St. John’s Home Missions Seminary in Little Rock, AR, where he trained to serve in the missions of the southern and western United States. Bishop Vincent S. Waters visited the seminary seeking priest candidates for the Diocese of Raleigh, and he ordained Father Keaney to the Priesthood in 1954.

During 40 years of active Priesthood, Father Keaney served parishes in North Wilkesboro, Asheville, Red Springs, Raeford, Kannapolis, Shelby, Sanford, Raleigh and Roanoke Rapids. He was the first pastor at St. Andrew Church in Red Springs and St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Raeford.

After his retirement in 1994, he continued to serve parishes in Tarboro, Roanoke Rapids and wherever he was needed, focusing his efforts particularly on ministry to the Hispanic community. In 2000, at the request of Bishop F. Joseph Gossman, Father Keaney was named a Prelate of Honor to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor.

Msgr. Gerald L. Lewis, Administrator of St. Paul Parish in New Bern, remembered Msgr. Keaney as “a dedicated missionary his entire life. He served in parishes across the state, always reaching out to the poor and needy. He was a pastor who knew, loved and sacrificed for his flock. In his seventies he undertook the study of Spanish to serve the migrant population. Until two years before his death, he drove 80 miles each Sunday to serve the Hispanic Community.”

He was preceded in death by his parents, John B. Keaney and Mary Donnelly Keaney; and three brothers, Lugh F. Keaney, Francis X. Keaney, and Phillip S. Keaney.

Father Keaney is survived by three sisters, Ellen K. Keaney of Billerica, MA, Sister Carol Louise Keaney, O.S.U. of Goshen, NY, and Mary P. Keaney of Billerica, MA; his brother, Rev. John B. Keaney, M.M. of Ossining, NY; and several nieces and nephews.

The Reception of the Body and Vigil for the Deceased will take place on Friday, October 21, 2011, with prayer service at 6 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Roanoke Rapids with the Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman presiding. The visitation will continue until 8 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 22, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Roanoke Rapids with the Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Principal Celebrant and the Rev. Msgr. John J. Williams, Homilist. Rite of Committal will follow at Cedarwood Cemetery in Roanoke Rapids. A reception in the parish hall will follow the Rite of Committal.

Mass cards and cards of condolence for the family of Msgr. Keaney may be sent to the following address: 341 Boston Road, Billerica, MA 01821.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 115 East 9th Street, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870.

The flag in front of the funeral home flies at half-staff in honor of Father Keaney’s service to his country.

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Askew Funeral & Cremation Services  •  731 Roanoke Avenue   Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870  •  252-537-8888