Joseph E. Kerns, 75, a former Jesuit priest who wrote books about theology and love and who retired as a federal college accreditation specialist, died of cancer Dec. 4 at his home in Lewes, Del. He lived in the Washington area off and on for 45 years before moving from Chantilly to Delaware in 1994.

Dr. Kerns taught French and religion at Gonzaga College High School from 1949 to 1952. He was headmaster and administrator in the early 1970s of the German Orphan Home, a facility for troubled children near Upper Marlboro that was later called Kinderheim. He began his 20-year federal career with the Education Department in 1974.

Dr. Kerns was a Philadelphia native who entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Wernersville, Pa., in 1942 and was ordained 13 years later. He was a graduate of Woodstock Theological Seminary, where he also received a master's degree in teaching. He received a doctorate in sacred theology from Gregorian University in Rome.

He taught at Wheeling College, where he was head of the Theology Department, and then left the priesthood 30 years ago. He taught briefly at St. Mary's College in Minnesota and then married Kathleen Keane, a former Sister of Mercy.

His books included "Portrait of a Champion," "The Theology of Marriage," "How Does God Teach Us Morals," "The Art of Staying in Love" and "The Once and Future Church." He published a bimonthly publication for couples called "Sharing."

In addition to his wife, of Lewes, survivors include two sisters and a brother.