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Dublin college drops auction of Mrs. Kennedy letters

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — A Catholic college will no longer auction letters sent by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to an Irish priest.

Earlier in May Vincentian-run All Hallows College in Dublin announced that it was selling the correspondence between Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, a priest who had befriended the former first lady when she visited Dublin in 1950.

The letters detailed Kennedy’s struggles with her Catholic faith after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963.

In a statement to the media May 21, college officials said that the letters were “being withdrawn from auction” at the direction of the college and the Vincentian Fathers.

The statement added: “Representatives of All Hallows College and the Vincentian Fathers are now exploring with members of Mrs. Kennedy’s family how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.”

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

The existence of the letters was revealed in mid-May and generated massive media coverage. Kennedy died May 19, 1994, at age 64.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million.

 

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Letters to priest reveal Jackie Kennedy’s struggles with faith after JFK’s assassination

By

Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Newly released letters between former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest reveal Kennedy’s struggles to keep her faith after her husband’s assassination.

The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, who died in 1964, are set to be auctioned in Dublin in June. Excerpts were published in The Irish Times newspaper.

Caroline Kennedy, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. are seen leaving the U.S. Capitol Nov. 24, 1963, after a ceremony there for the slain president Kennedy. The following day a funeral Mass was celebrated for U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. (CNS photo/Abbie Rowe, National Parks Service, courtesy John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

One letter, dated January 1964, just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, revealed how the tragedy left Kennedy struggling with her Catholic faith. “I am so bitter against God,” she wrote, but added “only he and you and I know that.”

She explained that she did not want to be bitter “or bring up my children in a bitter way” and was “trying to make my peace with God.”

She wrote: “I think God must have taken Jack to show the world how lost we would be without him — but that is a strange way of thinking to me.”

Kennedy wrote in the same letter that “God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see him.”

She asked Father Leonard to pray for her and said she would pray too in an effort to overcome her bitterness against God. “I have to think there is a God — or I have no hope of finding Jack again,” she wrote.

Father Leonard taught at All Hallows College, the Vincentian seminary in Dublin, and first met a young Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1950 when she visited Dublin. The two struck up an immediate friendship and corresponded regularly.

The letters reveal that Kennedy often turned to Father Leonard at times of darkness. In 1956, she wrote to the priest after the birth of a stillborn daughter, Arabella, and said: “Don’t think I would ever be bitter at God.” She observed that she could “see so many good things that come out of this — how sadness shared brings married people closer together.”

The letters reveal that Father Leonard rekindled Kennedy’s interest in her Catholic faith. In early 1952, she wrote: “I terribly want to be a good Catholic now and I know it’s all because of you. I suppose I realized in the back of my mind you wanted that — you gave me the rosary as I left Ireland.”

She was 22 and told the priest: “I suddenly realized this Christmas when my sister and I decided — after not going to church for a year — that we desperately wanted to change and get close to God again — that it must have been your little prayers that worked — all the way across the ocean.”

 

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Letters to the Editor

October 28th, 2011 Posted in Letters, Opinion Tags: ,

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Willing to make donation for paper

I’ve noticed that the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is offered for sale in the local churches at $1 each.  While this may pose a hardship to some who desire the latest Catholic news, I do think that there are people like myself who would be willing to pay $1 for the privilege of continuing this prize-winning newspaper.

Maybe a free will donation box at each church would further help offset the production costs of this fine newspaper.  Not knowing the actual financial situation of the Dialog, I thought that I’d pass this on as a possible suggestion to ensure it’s continued publication.

Thanks for the great job that you do.

Leon J. Gratkowski

Middletown

 

Thanks for medal

I’m writing to express our thanks to Bishop Malooly, the Diocese of Wilmington, St. Jude the Apostle Church, its pastor, Father James D. Hreha and the people of St. Jude.

Margaret and I were honored by receiving the diocese’s Medal of Merit Oct. 16. We were so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude when told that we were to be so honored. We want to say that this honor was only deserved with the help of all the people of ministry in our parish with whom we have worked and who also deserve this honor.

James C. Cranwell

Milton

 

Message of Fatima is continuing

Thank you for the wonderful promotion of devotion to our Blessed Mother the Oct. 14 Dialog. This is a great month to reflect on her ongoing concern for us and the fact that the message of Fatima is not over.

Pope Benedict XVI at the esplanade of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 2010, made the statement that “we would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete” and renewed the appeal to listen to our Blessed Mother.  He ended his homily with “May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

• Oct. 13, 2010, 33 miners are rescued from the depths;

• Oct. 13, 1917, is the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima at which time the Blessed Mother appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is patroness of Chile;

• Oct. 13 is the feast day of St. Edward the Confessor, before whose tomb the pope and archbishop prayed the previous September.

The appeal of Pope Benedict XVI at Fatima in 2010 seems a repeat of a similar appeal of another Pope Benedict in May of 1917 when he prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for peace in the world. A week later she first appeared at Fatima with the peace plan from heaven.

Joanne Laird

Wilmington

 

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