Emmanuel Duffy, OFM
1907 – 2005
Fr. Emmanuel Duffy, OFM, was born in New York City on Feb. 15, 1907. During high school, he had a summer job at the customs office on the West Side docks; an employee there who was a Secular Franciscan learned of the young man’s desire to become a priest and directed him to the friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in Manhattan.
The 16-year-old was received into the Province’s novitiate in 1923 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J. Fr. Emmanuel made his first profession of vows the following year in Paterson and professed solemn vows in 1928 at St. Bonaventure’s College and Seminary in Allegany, N.Y. In 1930, he was ordained a priest in Paterson.
In the fall, Fr. Manny went as a simplex priest to the newly-constructed Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., for his final year of theology. Upon completion of his studies, he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, where he was responsible for the mission church in Mountain View, N.J.
In 1933, the young priest’s eloquent preaching of the Three Hours’ Service on Good Friday in Paterson so impressed Fr. Jerome Dawson, OFM, the master of novices, that he was tapped to be a member of the Province’s mission band. For the next two decades, Fr. Manny spent most of his life on the road, traversing the Northeast United States and even Canada, preaching parish missions and retreats for religious, winning a reputation as one of the orators of the Province. During these years he was based at Sacred Heart Friary in East Rutherford, N.J., and St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J.
Fr. Emmanuel was named guardian and pastor of St. Joseph Church, East Rutherford, in 1952, and in 1955, he was called to become guardian and pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in New York. It was during his tenure that the 32nd Street entrance to the church was constructed. During these years, Fr. Manny was known among the friars as a conscientious superior. In 1958, he returned to the mission band, based at St. Francis Retreat House in Brookline, Mass., where he again assumed the responsibilities of guardian in 1962.
He returned in 1964 to St. Anthony Friary, which would remain his home for the next four decades. He resumed full-time preaching, this time as promoter for Friar magazine. Fr. Manny traveled from parish to parish, drumming up subscriptions. In 1975, he requested a less demanding ministry, although expressing his willingness “to fill in as needed.”
For the next thirty years, he led an active retirement as “designated hitter” of the Butler friary, eager to help out in the diocese with weekend assistance and preaching requests. Fr. Boniface Hanley, OFM, recalled that even in his mid 90s, Fr. Manny would gladly take two Sunday Masses in West Milford and that the people always enjoyed his homilies.
Indeed, it seemed that Fr. Manny’s pace would never slacken. He did not give up driving until he was 97, and he made it a point to keep involved in current events. He actively participated in the 2005 Provincial Chapter, where he celebrated the diamond anniversary of his ordination.
On Dec. 5, 2005, Fr. Emmanuel was transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., after being hospitalized for pneumonia and dehydration. He died Dec. 8 at the friary. Fr. Manny was 98 years old — the senior friar of the Province at the time of his death, a professed friar for 81 years and a priest for 75 years.