William Hayes, OFM
1908 – 1988
Fr. William Hayes, OFM, was born Feb. 21, 1908 in Brooklyn, N.Y. After working for four years at the American Express Company, he entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1926. He was received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1931 and professed temporary vows one year later. Fr. William made his solemn profession in 1935 and was ordained in 1938.
His first assignment was to St. Joseph’s Parish in East Rutherford, N.J. Fr. William entered the United States Army as a chaplain in 1943 and served with the 531st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapon Battalion. He was awarded both the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his ministry to wounded soldiers in the Normandy invasion. He was captured by the Germans and also offered Mass in German for prisoners of war of the Allies.
After his discharge from the Army, Fr. William became parochial vicar of St. Francis Parish in Wanaque, N.J. In 1952, he was appointed guardian and pastor in Callicoon, where he also taught religion to the students. Three years later, he went to Assumption Parish, Wood-Ridge, N.J., where he built the church and friary during his 12 years as pastor. He worked at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City and then for four years served as chaplain at Greystone Park Hospital. In 1976, he returned to St. Francis Church in New York City and ministered as a full-time member of the staff for 12 years.
He died on April 21, 1988 in Warwick, N.Y. Fr. William was 80 years old, a professed friar for 55 years and a priest for 49 years.