Father Joseph Kerr, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1895-1953)

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Born on July 21, 1895 in New York City, he was the son of John and Catherine Kerr. His brother John Baptist became a Passionist and another brother became a diocesan priest. As a young man he was educated at Sacred Heart School on the west side of Manhattan. Upon graduation he entered Cathedral College to begin his studies towards priesthood. In 1913 he changed from the Archdiocese of New York to the Passionist Preparatory School in Baltimore, Maryland and entered the novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he professed his vows on April 5, 1915. Studies took place at St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, New York; St. Ann’s, Scranton, Pennsylvania; St. Gabriel’s, Brighton, Massachusetts and on January 21, 1923 he was ordained by Cardinal O’Connell of Boston. After spending sacred eloquence in West Hoboken, New Jersey he was assigned to the monastery in Scranton. For the next five years he worked directing the laymen’s retreats there and was associated with the beginnings of the St. Ann’s Novena which included devotion as well to St. Paul of the Cross and St. Gabriel. At the same time he was a pioneer in the retreat work for lay women at the Passionist convent of St. Gabriel. His next assignment was a preacher of parish missions and retreats for religious.