Dominican Father Joseph Peter Kenny, 77, a missionary to Africa for nearly 50 years, died of cancer on January 28, 2013 in Washington DC. A native of Chicago, Father Joe left for Nigeria at the request of the Holy See for a resource person knowledgeable in Arabic and Islam, since there was a need at the very least to secure understanding and peace between the country’s large Christian and Muslim communities.
Father Joe took time to learn Arabic in Rome, Tunisia, and Cairo, and to obtain a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK. After working in northern Nigeria, he taught subjects on Islamic philosophy and theology for 22 years at the government-owned University of Ibadan, where he served as Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies. He also helped develop the Dominican Institute in Ibadan, where he taught courses on philosophy, theology, and communications for hundreds of lay students and seminarians, many of whom are now missionary priests in the United States.