Kent, Edmond (1915–99), Jesuit priest and economist, was born 9 June 1915 at 15 Rostrevor Terrace, Rathgar, Dublin, son of Pierce Kent, civil servant and later commissioner of the board of works, and Mary Catherine Kent (née Connolly). Educated at Clongowes Wood College, Kildare, he entered the Society of Jesus at Emo on 7 September 1933, taking his first vows in September 1935. He lived at the Jesuit community in Rathfarnham 1935–9 while studying economics at UCD. In 1939 he moved to Tullabeg, where he studied philosophy, before returning to Dublin, where he studied theology at Milltown Park (1944–8). Ordained priest on 30 July 1947, he spent his tertianship (1948–9) at Auriesville, where he completed further studies in social sciences.
Returning to Dublin, he became assistant-director at University Hall (1949–52) while also teaching extramural classes in economic science at UCD in a diploma course for trade unionists. He had long been interested in the trade union movement and was often criticised by members of the Federated Union of Employers, who accused him of being too left-wing. In fact his convictions were firmly based in his Christian faith. He once remarked: ‘I honestly believe that we can have no industrial peace unless people are living truly Christian lives' (Interfuse, no. 104, 29). The Jesuit order had founded (1946) an education programme for workers, and Kent spent a period in New York observing Jesuit initiatives in the labour colleges there. On his return to Dublin, he worked as a lecturer in the newly founded Catholic Workers College (est. 1951), later renamed the National College of Industrial Relations. Teaching trade unionism and acting as prefect of studies, he had a great impact on students and union officials, helping them formulate and present their cases in the Labour Court.
In 1969 he moved to the Jesuit community at Leeson St. and, although he still continued to lecture at the Catholic Workers College, gradually moved away from his trade union activity. He took over as director of the Messenger office (1969–89), and several of his colleagues thought that he would find the transition difficult. He threw himself into his new work with enthusiasm, however, travelling around the country promoting the Messenger while also giving seminars on devotion to the Sacred Heart. Preaching in numerous parishes around the country, he also conducted seminars at the adult education centre in Birmingham. He later served as chaplain at St Vincent's private hospital in Dublin (1983–9).
In his later years he suffered from failing eyesight and had a bad fall (1989) while visiting Cherryfield Lodge, the Jesuit retirement home in Dublin. On his release from hospital he became a permanent resident there, taking care of the home's accounts and reorganising its library. He died at Cherryfield Lodge, 8 November 1999, and was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery.