Denis J. Kavanagh, O.S.A.

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1886 – 1966 (May 2)

Denis Joseph Kavanagh, son of Thomas Kavanagh and Mary Walsh, was born in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland, on August 21, 1886. In September 1904 he began four years of study at Villanova Preparatory, Villanova, PA after which he entered the novitiate. He was professed on July 7, 1909 and received his A.B. degree from Villanova College on June 13, 1912. On the 12th of the following month he made his solemn profession, and on September 17, 1912, he went to Rome to continue his studies at the International Augustinian College of Saint Monica. Due to the volatile international scene, he returned as a deacon on June 9, 1915 to Villanova, where he was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, in Saint Thomas’ Church by Bishop John J. McCort, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. 

From 1915 to 1932, Father Kavanagh taught at Villanova, and held various important posts in the Province. It was in 1925 that he was appointed Regent in Theology and on December 15, 1930 he was awarded the degree of Master of Sacred Theology in the Order. In October 1932, he was assigned to Our Mother of Good Counsel parish in Hollywood, California. Father Kavanagh was appointed prior of Augustinian College in Washington in 1935 and spent the next six years teaching Canon Law and Moral Theology. In 1941 and again in 1944, he was prior at the Novitiate of Our Mother of Good Counsel in New Hamburg. He was appointed prior at Malvern Preparatory School in 1947 and returned as prior in Augustinian College in Washington in 1950. Six years later, Father Kavanagh was appointed prior at the University of San Tomas de Villanueva in Cuba. On July 17, 1959 he was assigned to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in the Bronx, NY. 

In 1937, Father Kavanagh wrote The Augustinian Order, a brief historical sketch of the Order, which he revised in 1965 shortly before his death. He also wrote “St. Augustine and Education” in 1937, and in 1943 translated Saint Augustine’s Contra Academicos and his Sermon on the Mount for a patristic series being published in this country. Father Kavanagh returned to Villanova on November 18, 1964 in ill health. He died in Bryn Mawr Hospital on May 2, 1966 at the age of 70. He is buried in the Community Cemetery at Villanova.