Ted Kennedy: His Faith, His Life

As little children, they went to mass each week, and every day in the summertime. “We always had a rosary on our beds; and then, of course, [Mother would] hear our bedtime prayers and do our catechism with us,” said Patricia, the sixth of Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children, in her mother’s memoir, Times to Remember. They thanked God for the food on their table, and at Sunday dinner they discussed the sermon they’d heard that morning. Priests and nuns were regular guests at meals—and house-guests, too—in Hyannis, as caught up in the sailing and tennis as the children themselves. The Kennedys were sons and daughters of privilege; their milestones—baptisms, weddings, too many funerals—were marked in church by America’s highest bishops. Teddy, the baby, received his first holy communion from Pope Pius XII in Rome, telling reporters afterward, “He patted my head and told me I was a smart little fellow.” Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Richard Cushing performed Jack’s wedding. That prelate, with his broad Boston-Irish accent, presided over Jack’s funeral and helped with Bobby’s, too. He barely kept his composure at the first; he wept openly at the second.