Fr. Kenan Osborne, OFM was a significant figure in the Saint Barbara Province and enriched the Church with his theological insights into the essence of God and the human response to the divine.
Exceptionally talented, Kenan was a polyglot; his linguistic abilities in German, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and some Chinese gave his scholarship depth and wide coverage in a global world. Right after Vatican Council II, and having attended lectures delivered by Dr. Joseph Ratzinger, he returned from his studies in Germany to help move the Franciscan theology school from its traditional location at Old Mission Santa Barbara to its new ecumenical venture at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. Under his leadership as President of the Franciscan School of Theology (1971-1985), he not only shaped the foundations of the Franciscan theological and pastoral revival in the United States but also helped establish the ecumenical Union as a premier graduate academic theological institution. Read here: Obituary/Fr. Joseph Chinnici, Reflection
Thank you to those of you who have already made memorial contributions to the Fr. Kenan Osborne Endowment Fund.
To make a gift, please make your check payable to Franciscan School of Theology and mail to: 4050 Mission Ave, Oceanside CA 92057, or via credit card: Donate (via Credit card)
Memories of Fr. Kenan Osborne, shared at the FST weekly liturgy on May 1, 2019
Janet Stickmon He was a professor who demonstrated how an educator could create a clear, vivid image of the most abstract concepts in systematic theology and bring them to life in the minds and hearts of his students. He was around 65 or 66 yrs old when I was his student and back then, I used to admire his youthfulness as he lectured, sitting on desks, wearing Vans, swinging his feet back and forth; with professors like him, I never feared growing old. He taught me that a professor didn’t have to kill his students to get them to learn something. Kenan was highly respected for his innovative approaches to the sacraments. Kenan was the author of over 21 books and countless articles. I remember, he openly criticized Cardinal Ratzinger in class long before he became pope; he taught us about Karl Rahner’s theory of the anonymous Christian. As a professor of ethnic studies today, Kenan is one of my clear sources of inspiration. Kenan, I pray you find rest and power in the spirit realm…and that you will laugh and play and giggle and pray with all the angels and saints, all the goddesses and gods, all ancestors, Mary, and our Creator.
Kerey Quaid Once one begins, it is difficult to know when to stop. Neither Kenan’s knowledge, nor his enthusiasm for teaching, nor his curiosity about the lives of students ever seemed to stop. So to be short, I will try to summarize those of his teachings which I found most surprising and precious. 1. God is relational. Before any creation, God eternally had loving relationships between the three whom we call Father, Son and Spirit. Because God is relational, and because we are made in God’s image, we are designed and made for loving relationships, not for independence. 2. The Passion and resurrection of Jesus were the way that God chose to enact our salvation. They were not God’s only option, as some say, because all of the sins or plans that all of humanity could ever make are still finite; God is infinite. A God who is infinite in wisdom and power always has infinite options, and absolute freedom. 3. Sacraments are tangible practices, entrusted by God to the Church for the purpose of bestowing particular blessings on particular people, at a certain place and time. Anything in God’s creation is potentially sacramental– God can use whatever God wants, for contacting or blessing someone. 4. God did not create a big generic “human nature”, nor the first two people, then step back to observe. God creates each human being, and even before creating them, knows each one by name. And each of us, and the universe itself, exist because God wills that we do. The topics that Kenan addressed for hundreds if not thousands of fortunate students and worshipers helped us all to connect in better, deeper ways to our infinite God. But of course his time here was finite. Like the apostles, and like the first brothers and sisters of St. Francis, we who were touched by this master must take up our cross of sharing what we have received.
Stephanie DeBenedetti-Emaneul He was truly one of a kind! I remember Kenan’s never-ending quest to broaden all of our minds and hearts in every aspect of our lives. I realize how I have implemented his spirit of pushing the boundaries and including the outcast. As a laywoman in the Church, I am so thankful for his desire to educate and include everyone in lay ministry. I owe so much to Kenan for instilling in me the love and values of St. Francis of Assisi.