It is indeed ironic that in the US, mentioning the name “Kennedy” at a Catholic college will (usually validly) elicit howls of protest that any Catholic institution would associate itself with a political family that has become synonymous with pro-abortion Catholic, while in the African nation of Angola, a Kennedy is lauded as the inspiration for the country’s only Catholic university.
Michael Kennedy, the late son of Sen. Robert Kennedy, was cut in the mold of most Kennedy men, seen as overgrown adolescents who as often as not treated women as playthings. Eschewing political office, he founded a non-profit that sold heating oil at discount rates to the poor. But he was also embroiled in scandal when it was revealed that he’d had an affair with his teenage babysitter. (Charges were never filed because the girl wouldn’t cooperate with police.) He died not long after those revelations in a skiing accident while playing “ski football,” a dangerous and, yes, adolescent game.
But there are those in Africa who remember him quite differently.
With contributions from Citizens Energy, Mobil, and other oil companies, Michael created the Boston-based Angola Educational Assistance Fund in 1996, and used his famous name to promote plans to make the cardinal’s vision a reality.
Michael’s effort was akin to numerous other work-intensive charitable projects created by Kennedy cousins in places around the world, help that goes well beyond just writing checks or offering one’s name to help a good cause. These little-seen but quietly ambitious charitable endeavors are the flip side of the daredevil behavior, womanizing, and addiction woes that are also a part of the family legacy.
At Catholic University last week, summer students stared intently at computers secured with funds from Michael’s organization and read books donated from Massachusetts in the library, which is no bigger than that of an average American middle school.
According to the assistance fund’s website, it’s called the Michael LeMoyne Kennedy Memorial Library, but no sign revealed the name.
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