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Remembering… Kenelm Foster OP

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Described as “every inch a Dominican”, Fr Francis Stephen Kenelm Foster OP was a noted scholar, outstanding preacher and beloved as both brother and pastor.  He was born on 26th December, 1910 in colonial India, where his father, a Catholic convert, served as a High Court judge.  It was in Florence, however, that the young Kenelm was brought up by his maternal grandmother.

Fr Bede Jarrett OP
Moving again, he attended prep school in Brighton, before going to Downside.  Downside played host to a seminal event in his life when he heard Fr. Bede Jarrett OP preach a retreat. After Downside, Kenelm went up to Christ’s College, Cambridge, on a scholarship, and it was during these undergraduate years that he was introduced to the study of Dante by Professor Edward Bullough, benefactor of the Cambridge Priory and Father of Fr Sebastian Bullough OP.  At the end of his studies, Kenelm gained a First and was offered a Fellowship, which he declined: he was intent on joining the Order of Preachers.

Dante Alighieri
Kenelm’s early Dominican life took the usual path: he entered the Novitiate at Woodchester in 1934 at the age of 24; he made his profession on 28th September 1935; and, he was ordained priest on 14th July 1940.  After serving as Curate at Holy Cross, Leicester, he was elected to a lectureship in the Department of Italian Studies at Cambridge University, later being appointed to Reader in Italian.  Amongst his many interests, two stand out: the lives and works of St Thomas Aquinas and Alighieri Dante, publishing important works about both including The Life of Saint Thomas Aquinas, God’s Tree, and The Two Dantes. Before he retired in 1979, amongst the many accolades he received, Fr Kenelm was appointed Master in Sacred Theology by the Master of the Order, one of the greatest honours for any Dominican.

He died on 6th February 1986, aged 75, after 50 years profession as a Dominican. His beloved Thomas summed up the Dominican mission as contemplata aliis tradere: to give to others the fruit of contemplation. In his scholarship, preaching and ministry, Fr. Kenelm was faithful to his mentor’s words. Requiescat in pace.

Samuel Burke OP


johnny commented on 27-Aug-2020 03:43 AM
A wonderful man. a true contemplative scholar. i met him only briefly. he made a deep impression on me.
Peter Walther commented on 23-May-2021 08:59 PM
Thank you for this memorial to Kenelm Foster. He was a good friend to my mother whom I believe he first met as a child in India. He often visited us as I was growing up and I often wished he had married my mother. I
fantasized how different life would have been had he been my real father.

Thank you.

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