The Fr. James Keenan Council 11266 is located at St. Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Parish in Garner, NC on 1008 Vandora Springs Rd. Our council business meeting is held in St. Joseph’s Hall the 1st Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. Our family social meeting is at 7:00 p.m. the 3rd Thursday of the month. Contact Us.
The Father James Keenan Council 11266 was issued its charter by the Supreme Council on March 9, 1994. At this time the District Deputy was Al Rocchio.
We are a very active council and are proud of our many accomplishments. In our first year, under the guidance of Bill Mitchell, charter Grand Knight, and Keith Stringer, charter Deputy Grand Knight, we were able to renovate a wing of St. Mary Mother of the Church adding fifty seats to the capacity. This project earned us the Supreme Council’s Church Award as well as North Carolina State Council’s Church Award and a feature article in the Colombia magazine. We have also won the insurance award for net gain, the Father McGivney Award for membership and have been named the Best Small Council in North Carolina.
Grand Knight Bill S. Mitchell
Chaplain Fr. Charles Mulholland
Deputy Grand Knight Keith Stringer
Chancellor Mark Pfouts
Recorder Ken Preiskorn
Warden Charles Weber
Financial Secretary Ken Reising
Treasurer Richard Saccoccia
Advocate Mike Clark
Inside Guard Tony Garcia
Outside Guard Terry Hunsinger
A Biography of Father James Keenan
(WRITTEN BY JUDY KEENAN MAHER, FATHER KEENAN’S NIECE AND GODCHILD)
On April the 13th, 1921 James F. Keenan was born to Sir Knight Thomas J. Keenan and Mary Hollard Keenan of 81 Walnut Street, West Brighton, Staten Island, NY and grew up there. Father Jim was one of what would eventually be, five brothers, Thomas, Joseph, John and Patrick. Fr. Keenan and his father were Fourth Degree members of the Knights of Columbus. They were charter members of Assumption Council in Port Richmond as well as member of the Governor Dongan Assembly. With the passing of his brother Joe in 1990 not much is known about his childhood other than pictures in an album. He received a Catholic school education, attending Sacred Heart grade school, then St. Peter’s High School in New Brighton, Staten Island. Later while attending Brooklyn Academy he received his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY from Congressman James A. O’Leary.
He entered West Point in 1940 and graduated as part of one of the largest classes of his day, 514 cadets. He did this in only 3 years, a year ahead of schedule with a Second Lieutenant’s commission in the coastal Artillery Corps in 1943. He would then be a participant in the Battle of the Bulge. Father Jim would eventually gain the rank of Captain and while serving in Bad Tolz, Germany as an assistant G-1 in the First Division. His duties earned him the Army Commendation Ribbon for his meritorious service in connection with his occupation duties. He separated from service as a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1947.
In August of 1948, Father Jim entered St. John’s Seminary, Little Rock, Arkansas shortly after being discharged from the Army. He studied there for one year. The next year he entered St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland and remained there until he completed his studies in 1954.
At the age of 33, Father James F. Keenan was ordained on May 27, 1954. In attendance were Thomas and Mary his proud parents, his four brothers and 8 year old Judy Keenan Maher (who provided this information). Father Keenan was ordained at10:00 AM at St. Lawrence Church, Asheville, North Carolina. His ordination was conducted by the Most Reverend Vincent S. Waters, Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina. He was now a priest in the Raleigh Diocese. His first Mass however was celebrated on June 6th 1954 at his home parish, Sacred Heart Church, West Brighton, Staten Island, NY. This celebration was also attended by family, several childhood friends and neighbors. A Fourth Degree Honor Guard was present formed by members of his Assembly as well as his father’s Assembly. The Archpriest was Rev. Msgr. George C. Murdock, his Catholic chaplain while a cadet in the United States Military Academy at West Point. Rev. Thomas A. Shea his World War II chaplain in Germany was a co-celebrant. He spoke of family values and how they were instilled in Father Keenan as he was growing up. He stated during his sermon that those who were “faithful in civilian life, were sure to be faithful in military life, and that those who were careless in civilian life almost always were careless in military life.” The Master of Ceremonies at his first Mass was a young theological student enrolled at Catholic University in Washington, DC named H. Charles Mulholland, who we all know is the council, as the charter chaplain and former parish priest.
Father Jim began his parish work at Edenton where he attended to Missions at Ahoskie and Williamston in 1954. He then served at St. Leo’s in Winston-Salem. In 1956 Father Jim served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Charlotte. His first Pastorate was Holy Rosary at Lexington in 1958 and its Mission at Mocksville. His second Pastorate was at Christ the King at Kings Mountain and its surrounding Missions until 1963. He then went to serve as Pastor at The Queen of the Apostles Church at Belmont and St. Helen’s Spencer Mountain. In Belmont he would stay until 1968.
Nearly 47 years of age in 1968 Father Keenan stated, “being aware of the great shortage of chaplains, I feel I must go where I am needed.” With this he re-entered the U. S. Army as a chaplain with the rank of Captain and would spend the next 2 years in Vietnam. While there in Southeast Asia Father Keenan would earn the rank of Major and be awarded the Bronze Star.
Upon his return to the Raleigh Diocese on June 18, 1970 he was appointed Dean of the New Bern Area by the Bishop. That assignment was short lived for on November 30, 1970 he would then be assigned as Pastor of St. Mary, Mother of the Church in Garner while also serving as Director of Vocations for the Raleigh Diocese. He would serve this parish until 1973. Blackrobe, his dog, accompanied him on walks around the parish grounds. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed walking and biking. He would certify Girl and Boy Scouts for their bicycle safety badges. He would do or go wherever the Bishop asked and without complaint. He was simply doing what the Church asked of him, what Bishop Waters asked of him. He was consumed by his tasks as a priest. Many fellow priest were World War II Veterans, and they referred to him as Captain Keenan. Father Charlie stated he referred to everything around him in military terms. The rector was the “C.O.”, a poor grade on a surprise test was a “failure of intelligence”; Rome was “HQ”. Instead of saying good-bye, he would always bid you to “Take the High Ground”. Father Charlie stated, “When you think of violence, we think of weapons. But there is also violence of the word. We can cut each other down with the word. But Jim never did that. He never said anything sharp or judgmental to or about anyone. He was a kind man. Father Charlie was quoted as saying, “Jim totally embraced the magnificent. His devotion to Mary never faltered. His kind of commitment is not readily understood in this culture.”
After St. Mary’s he would go on to serve as Pastor of Mother of Mercy in Washington, then Holy Spirit in Jacksonville, St Paul in Henderson, St. Joseph in Raleigh, then finally served in residence, at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham. While at what would be his final assignment, he dedicated more time to the Eucharist and Mary. Father Jim was spiritual director for the Rosary Crusade and the Fatima Apostolate, while a chaplain at the V. A. and Duke University Medical Centers. In spite of his own battle with cancer, Father Keenan spent most of his final days ministering to fellow patients until his death on April 7, 1988. Father Staib, then Pastor of Immaculate Conception is quoted as saying, “Father Keenan died as he lived, dedicated to serving others.”
Else Alva, a member of Militia Immaculatae, remembers, “I was blessed to be with Father Keenan when he died”. She continued, “he simply said, ‘I’m in the hands of Jesus and Mary, It will be done’. She stated, “when he originally learned of his illness, he commented that he was ordained_ in a Marion Year, 1954, and would die in a Marion Year, 1988.” Bishop F. Joseph Gossman celebrated the Rite of Christian Burial for Father Keenan on April 9, 1988. He shared these comments, “He was a simple man in the very best sense of the word. People probably know him best for his devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and in a special way to Our Lady of Fatima. Father Jim had led many retreats to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal. “I visited him on Tuesday (April 5th), the Bishop recalled. “I had no idea death was imminent. As I was leaving, he said to me ‘we’ll meet again on higher ground’. My last thought and prayer is that someday we all get the chance to meet Father Jim on Higher Ground.