Home Our Diocese Oblate Father Joseph McKenna, hospital chaplain, dies at 89

Oblate Father Joseph McKenna, hospital chaplain, dies at 89


WILMINGTON – Father Joseph J. McKenna, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, died May 14. He was 89 and had been a professed member of the congregation for 69 years.

Father McKenna was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Northeast Catholic High School. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1957 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington.

He ministered in secondary education at Northeast and at St. Francis de Sales High School in Toledo, Ohio. He was a teacher, vice principal, dean of students, athletic director and track coach. In 1983, he became registrar at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales, now De Sales University, in Center Valley, Pa.

In the Diocese of Wilmington, Father McKenna served as a hospital chaplain at Christiana Hospital beginning in 1992 and St. Francis Hospital six years later.

“Father McKenna was a devoted priest, whether in the classroom or as a chaplain in the hospital,” said Oblate Father James J. Greenfield, the provincial. “He always had energy to care for the sick. We Oblates admired his willingness to work hard, even though he was retired.”

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated May 18 at 11:30 a.m. at St. Ann Church, 2013 Gilpin Ave., Wilmington. A viewing will be held from 9:30-11:15. Burial will follow Mass at the Oblate Cemetery, 1120 Blue Ball Road, Childs, Md. Contributions in Father McKenna’s memory can be made to the Oblate Development Fund, 2200 Kentmrere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806.