Joachim Cuniffe, OFM
1874 – 1939
Fr. Joachim Cuniffe, OFM, was born on March 5, 1874 in Swinford, County Mayo, Ireland. When he was young, his family came to the United States and settled in Boston. After his second year at St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y., he entered the novitiate in 1897. He was a member of the last class to make the novitiate at Allegany. He professed temporary vows in 1898, made his solemn profession in 1901, and was ordained in 1904.
His first assignment was as an assistant at St. Patrick’s Parish in Buffalo, N.Y., where he served from 1904 to 1907. Fr. Joachim became one of the best-known preachers during the early years of Holy Name Province. An eloquent preacher of missions and retreats, he also taught history and rhetoric for 10 years at St. Bonaventure College. He served as vice president there from 1911 to 1916.
He returned to St. Patrick’s Parish, and three years later, was elected to the Provincial Council. In 1922, he was transferred to St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., and reelected to the Provincial Council. When the Brookline, Mass., residence of Cardinal O’Connell became a retreat house for men in 1927, Fr. Joachim was appointed the first superior. He remodeled both the upper and lower houses on the property. When Fr. Edward Blecke, OFM, became superior, Fr. Joachim stayed as his vicar, and resumed the office of superior in 1929.
In 1930, Fr. Joachim became the first superior and pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and renovated the entire plant for the needs of the new Franciscan community. Ill health began to limit his activities, and he went to Denver, hoping the mountain air would help his physical condition.
He died on Dec. 9, 1939 at the Denver friary. Fr. Joachim was 64 years old, a professed friar for 40 years and a priest for 34 years.