Robert Kennedy (Jesuit)

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Robert E. Kennedy
Father Robert E. Kennedy
Born (1933-06-20) June 20, 1933 (age 87)
Nationality American
Other names Harada Roshi
Title Jesuit

Robert Edward Kennedy (born June 20, 1933) is an American Jesuit priest, professor of theology, psychoanalyst and Zen rōshi in the White Plum lineage.


Kennedy joined the Jesuits on August 8, 1951. At the end of a long spiritual and academic training he was ordained a priest in Japan in 1965. He studied with Yamada Koun in Japan in the 1970s. He was installed as a Zen teacher of the White Plum Asanga lineage in 1991 and was given the title Roshi in 1997. Kennedy studied Zen with Yamada Roshi in Kamakura, Japan, Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles and Bernard Glassman Roshi in New York City. Glassman Roshi installed Kennedy as sensei in 1991 and conferred Inka (his final seal of approval) in 1997, making him a roshi (master). Kennedy is currently an elder in the Zen Peacemaker Order founded by Glassman in 1996.

Kennedy was for a time chairperson of the theology department of Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey. Currently, he teaches theology and used to teach Japanese. In addition to his work at the college, he is a practicing psychoanalyst in New York City, a representative at the United Nations of the Institute for Spiritual Consciousness in Politics and the author of two books, Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit and Zen Gifts to Christians. He sits with his Zen students daily at the Morning Star Zendo in Jersey City, NJ and with students in other zendos located throughout the tri-state area. He conducts weekend and weeklong sesshins (Zen retreats) at various centers in the United States, Mexico, Poland, England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

Dharma successors

To date, Kennedy has installed 14 dharma successors: Janet Richardson Roshi, Charles Birx Roshi, Ellen Birx Roshi, Janet Abels Roshi, Ray Cicetti Sensei, Gregory Abels Sensei, Paul Schubert Sensei, Inge von Wobeser-Hopfner Sensei, Patrick Eastman Roshi, Michael Holleran Sensei, Carl Bachmann Sensei, Carl Viggiani Sensei, Miriam Healy Sensei, Kevin Hunt Sensei (a Trappist monk from St. Joseph's Abbey at Spencer, Mass.), Cuca Montacel Sensei and Tim Butler Sensei. [1][2][3][4]


  • Kennedy, Robert E. (1984). Psychotherapy and Zen Buddhism in Christian Ministry. Andover Newton Theological School. 
  • Kennedy, Robert E. (1996). Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-0919-9. 
  • Kennedy, Robert E. (2000). Zen Gifts to Christians. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1654-3. 


See also


  1. "Morning Star Zendo". Retrieved 31 July 2009. Fischler, Marcelle S. (July 18, 2004). "A Jesuit Retreat Throws In Some Zen". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  2. "Zen master tells curious to embrace a new faith". The Record. January 22, 2006. 
  3. Seager, 225
  4. Barnhart, 148


  • Barnhart, Bruno; Yuese Huang (2001). Purity of Heart and Contemplation: A Monastic Dialogue Between Christian and Asian Tradition. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1348-X. 
  • Seager, Richard Hughes (2000). Buddhism In America. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-10868-0. 


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Selected videos:

  • Ep 38: The meeting place of the Jesuits and Zen with Fr. Robert Jinsen Kennedy, Roshi, S.J.
    Description: Robert Kennedy, S.J. is one of several practicing Catholic men and women who are recognized by the Buddhist community as zen teachers.  He is a licensed psychoanalyst and professor emeritus of theology at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. As a Christian Fr. Kennedy has found meaning and deep reverence in the practice of zen.   He is active in interfaith work, teaching zen to persons of all faiths, conducting retreats in the United States, Mexico, Ireland and England.  He studied zen in Japan with the Japanese master Yamada Roshi. He continued his study under Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles and Bernard Glassman Roshi in New York; in 1997 he received inka, the formal seal of approval, from Glassman Roshi and received the title Roshi, or Master. He holds doctorates in Theology from the University of Ottawa and from St. Paul University in Ottawa, a Masters in Theology from Sophia University in Tokyo, and a Doctor of Ministry in Psychology and Clinical Studies from Andover-Newton in Boston. He is a graduate of the Blanton-Peale Institute of Religion and Health in New York. Roshi Kennedy has written two books on Zen and Christianity: Zen Gifts to Christians and Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit. In 2017, Roshi Kennedy received two honorary doctorates, one from St. Peter's University, and one from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. His website is: Morning Star Zendo

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