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Author: Rev. John Keane, SA, Reflections on the Japanese Quest for Divinity

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Desmond-Fish Library

472 New York 403

Philipstown, NY 10524

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Father John J. Keane will share a presentation and sign copies of his new book Cultural and Theological Reflections on the Japanese Quest for Divinity in which he offers an explanation of Japanese divinity (kami 神) using sociology, anthropology, linguistics, literature and history. He presents an overview of how the Japanese have sought to love and serve their kami - a quest that rivals the interest that the West gives to God. The principles of interreligious dialogue are applied to the meaning of kami and a plea is made for a dialogue that respectfully accepts differences between the cultures and the theologies of Eastern and Western thought. Important cultural themes are discussed as a part of this quest, such as the emperors of Japan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The work also challenges the understanding of kami as highlighted by Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Endo Shusaku. Father Keane is currently serving a one year ministry at Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Keane was born in 1935, in Philadelphia, PA. After completing studies as St. Pius X Seminary (affiliated with New York State University) and Atonement Seminary (affiliated with the Catholic University of America), he was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1962. Soon after ordination, he went to Japan, working there for 18 years as Pastor of parishes in Kawasaki, Yokohama and Tajimi cities as Regional Superior for his Community. In 1974, Father Keane received a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, where he completed a thesis entitled “The Kami (Divinity) Concept: A Basis for Understanding and Dialogue,” which was published in 1980 as a series of five articles in The Japan Missionary Bulletin. They were reprinted later in the year as a monograph by the Oriens Institute for Religious Research in Tokyo. Returning to the United States in 1980, Father Keane was assigned to be a Newman Center Chaplain to students at Howard University in Washington, DC. In 1983, he was called to serve as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, CA, during which time the Jewish Community of San Francisco honored him with the annual Freedom Award in 1989. In 1992, he filled in temporarily for one year as Newman Center Chaplain at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, and as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Stockton, CA. In 1993, he was Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church, Seaside, CA, a multicultural parish with a large Hispanic population, as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Monterey Bay. In 1998, full time ministry as Ecumenical and Interreligious Director for the Diocese of Sacramento, CA, until 2002. He served on the General Council from 1999-2009, and has served in Formation Ministry for the Friars, as Director of a Postulant Program in Washington, DC, for North American candidates. He was Director of the prestigious Paul Wattson Lecture and Seminar Series at the University of San Francisco, a post he has held for 30 years. Father Keane was a member of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers (NADEO) Faiths in the World Committee from 1984 to 1988 and he participated in the preparation of the second revised edition of the Handbook for Interreligious Dialogue, to which he contributed an article on Japanese religious traditions.

In 2005 his article, “Religious Influences in the (Japanese) Tea Ceremony”, appeared in The Japan Mission Journal, Winter Issue. He has written another article in One in Christ, Vol. 41, No. 2, April, 2006, concerning the Second Vatican Council Decree on Religious Freedom and its impact upon ecumenical and interreligious work for the Roman Catholic Church. On May 9, 2006, the Executive Board of the National Association for Diocesan Ecumenical Officers bestowed on Father Keane the Annual James Fitzgerald Award for Ecumenism during its annual meeting in San Jose for “outstanding contribution and services in the work of Christian Unity.” In 2014, he helped to co-found the Garden of Hope in Westchester County, NY to address hunger issues in the community as Hunger Chairperson for the Peekskill Area Pastors Association (PAPA). He received the Martin Luther King Junior Award for his work from PAPA in 2016.

Snow Date: Thursday, February 16th at 6:30pm


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472 New York 403

Philipstown, NY 10524

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