Jesuit Father Kenneth A. Buddendorff died on Aug. 3, 2018, at the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He was 88 years old, a Jesuit for 70 years and a priest for 57 years.
Born in New Orleans on Sept. 9, 1929, he was educated at St. Matthias Elementary School (1936-43) and Jesuit High School (1943-47), both in New Orleans. After graduation from high school, he attended Loyola University in New Orleans for one year (1947-48) before entering the Society on July 1, 1948 at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Following First Vows he studied humanities in Grand Coteau. He continued his studies at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, earning a B.A. in English (1954) and completing his philosophy requirements. His regency was at Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas (1955-58). His theology studies were at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas (1958-62) where he earned the S.T.L. (1962). He was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1961 at St. Joseph Chapel on the Spring Hill campus in Mobile. He made Tertianship at St. Stanislaus in Cleveland (1962-63) and pronounced final vows on August 15, 1965 at Immaculate Conception Church in New Orleans. During a sabbatical at the Institute of Spirituality and Worship at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California (1976-77), he earned a Certificate in Theology Studies.
Fr. Buddendorff’s ministry included work in secondary and higher education, on the New Orleans Province staff and in retreat ministry. One of his major apostolates was working with the Christian Life Community, and he promoted it tirelessly and enthusiastically. His interest in and success with vocation promotion led him to be appointed the first full-time vocation director of the New Orleans Province, a post in which he served from 1966 to 1991. With his colleagues in other provinces, he helped pioneer many of the admissions practices that have evolved into the process now in place throughout the Conference.
“Father Bud” was popular with students as a campus minister at both Jesuit high schools in New Orleans and Dallas and at Loyola University, where he served on the campus ministry team for many years. He worked for briefer periods as campus minister at Spring Hill College and at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He became deeply involved in the Spiritual Exercises when he became Director and Superior at Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau (1997-2008). During those years he helped develop a program to train directors of the Spiritual Exercises, reflecting his keen interest in making the Exercises available as widely as possible in a way that empowered the laity.
While work with vocations and the CLC, as well as campus and retreat ministry, were hallmarks of Fr. Buddendorff’s priestly life, he served in several other roles as well, including Rector of the Jesuit community at Jesuit College Prep in Dallas (1991-97) and assistant Director at Ignatius Residence in New Orleans. When Fr. Charles O’Neill was appointed the first Vice-Provincial for Formation in the New Orleans Province, Fr. Buddendorff served as his Socius for two years (1970-72).
Fr. Buddendorff’s attitude was buoyant and joyful, always with a positive, enthusiastic manner that he was able to convey in his ministry. Many will remember the way in which he eased their entrance into the Society, often reassuring anxious parents and families. He was a strong believer in the Gospel’s message of justice and compassion, and these were often in his preaching. Above all, he was available for many works of the Society, embracing every mission given him to the best of his ability. In the reflection that he wrote for the observance of his 70 years as a Jesuit, he notes the various ministries in which he served, and he concludes: “Joy and love filled my life in each of these ministries.”
Fr. Buddendorff was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth Buddendorff, Sr. and Marguerite Mumme Buddendorff, his brother James and his sister Doris Buddendorff White. He is survived by a sister-in-law, Mrs. Shirley Buddendorff Sanders.