Raphael McInerney, OFM
1927 – 1990
Fr. Raphael McInerney, OFM, was born on Nov. 18, 1927 in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a high school student, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., and upon completion of his studies, was received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1947. Two older brothers — Fathers Berard and Athanasius — had earlier become friars of Holy Name Province. Fr. Raphael professed temporary vows in 1948, made his solemn profession in 1951 and was ordained in 1953.
He served at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, for one year before volunteering for the missions in Japan. Fr. Raphael went there in 1955 and was among the few foreign missionaries who learned to read and write in the Japanese language, for he believed an understanding of the language was key to understanding the Japanese people, as well as the basis for genuine missionary evangelization.
As a young priest, he worked in Shibukawa in Gumma Prefecture and also served a community of leprous people who lived in the vicinity. In 1961,he became pastor of the church in the city of Kiryu and served there until 1968, when illness forced him to move to the central friary in Kiryu. He became guardian there and served as the “bridge of transition” for the friars during the post-Vatican II years. A quiet inspiration, he was a firm animator of the friars for the next 12 years. Fr. Raphael also developed the central friary into the most popular retreat center in Japan. He eventually transferred to the Franciscan Chapel Center in Tokyo, where he continued to offer spiritual counseling.
He died on March 14, 1990 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Tokyo. Fr. Raphael was 62 years old, a professed friar for 41 years and a priest for 36 years.