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1948 - The Beginning: Fr. Francis Kennard

Father Francis “Frank” Kennard inspired by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement to “stand up for the poor” became the advisor and chaplain to the Blanchet Club at the University of Portland in 1948. The young men of Blanchet Club were motivated by Fr. Kennard to “get out in the streets and do something meaningful. Help people!” After years of service small acts of charity, the nine members of Blanchet Club searched for a permanent location to carry out their mission to feed, clothe, and offer aid to those in need.

The founders of Blanchet House of Hospitality include Jim O’Hanlon Sr., Eugene Feltz, Joe Moore, John Moore, Tom Moore, Dan Harrington, John Little, Hugh McGinnis, Pat Carr, Dan Christianson, Kev Collins, and Bernie Harrington. All alumni of the University of Portland and devote Catholics. Although named after the first Archbishop of Oregon, François Norbert Blanchet, it’s not an agency of the Catholic Church.

“He believed in the dignity of everybody we served, even if they abused it,” said Gene Feltz, remembering Father Kennard in a Catholic Sentinal article. The priest, who died in 1994, eventually became a missionary in South America and returned to Portland, where he lived in Old Town and ministered to homeless people.

Photo courtesy of the Catholic Sentinel.

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