Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas will deliver the invocation at Dallas' commemoration of President John F. Kennedy's life and death on Friday at Dealey Plaza site of the assassination.
Bishop Farrell, originally from Dublin, was a 16-year-old stastruck boy when Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963. Friday, November 22 is the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination.
“How in the name of God did I come from Dublin, Ireland to stand on the grassy knoll giving that invocation?” Farrell told the Dallas Morning News. "It is an honor I could not imagine.”
Kennedy’s inspiration helped guide the young Farrell from an awestruck teen to his current position. Farrell’s family took pride in the Irish American president, whose great-grandfather had fled famine in Ireland for Boston in 1849. Farrell's mother hung a picture of Kennedy on the kitchen wall beside Pope John XXIII and the Sacred Heart.
Farrell went out on the crowded Dublin streets when Kennedy visited and recalls, “I was no more than ten feet away” when Kennedy's motorcade passed.
“We saw someone who was going to change the world. We had suffered so much, and it was the beginning in Europe of student unrest.”
Farrell wanted to join Kennedy’s new Peace Corps to “change the world,” but the program was only open to U.S. citizens. He and his older brother, Brian, joined the priesthood. Farrell reflected, “We were tired of the Old World. We were tired of war. We were tired of fighting in Ireland among the Catholics and non-Catholics. I wanted to go off to Latin America and change Latin America. He energized the world.”
Farrell was ordained in 1978 and went to Mexico. He was chaplain at the University of Monterrey, where he taught seminars on social ethics.
Farrell is a naturalized American citizen and now works for legalization of immigrants. Earlier this year Bishop Farrell led a march of thousands demanding immigration reform.
After such a full life, Farrell has much to talk about on the commemoration on Friday. He has said that he will talk about Kennedy’s life and the theme of resurrection and Dallas’ grief.
“Dallas was devastated that day,” he said. “But we have lifted ourselves up. Kennedy would have wanted us to build ourselves up. He would not have wanted us to have felt abandoned and hated by the world. I will talk about hope for the future.”
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore