Our current exhibit features documents and items related
to Father James “Jim” Hennessy, a missionary priest from Boston who served in
the Solomon Islands from 1937 to 1942.
Father Hennessy was born in Cambridge in 1905, and after
attending Saint Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, entered Saint John’s
Seminary, Brighton, before completing his studies in Rome. Shortly after being ordained, Father Hennessy
found himself as an assistant to the then Father Richard J. Cushing at the
Cathedral of the Holy Cross, but was determined to serve as a missionary
An opportunity finally came, and Father Hennessy served
in the Solomon Islands from 1937 until 1942, when World War II brought the
Japanese military to the island. Despite
warnings, Father Hennessy would not abandon his mission, and was taken captive
by the occupying forces, after which his fate was unknown.
The mystery of his fate plagued his family, Cardinal
Cushing, and all those who knew Father Hennessy. Assuming the worst, Cardinal Cushing would
establish the Father Jim Hennessy Club in his memory, a dedicated to learning
about and supporting missions around the world.
He also published a pamphlet describing Father Hennessy’s work and the
circumstances surrounding his capture and disappearance.
His fate was discovered in 1947, via a letter from the
United States Navy now on display. Other
items being exhibited include Father Hennessy’s Mass kit and documents pertaining
to the Father Jim Hennessy Club, among others.
The display is located in the Lobby of the Pastoral Center in Braintree.