ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Michael McDonnell, OFM, 78, a professed Franciscan friar for 58 years and a priest for 52, died Nov. 3 at Maria Manor Nursing Care Center.
A wake will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 207 West 96th Street, New York City, with a wake service at 7:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Upper West Side church at 10 a.m. on Nov. 7, with burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, N.J.
Michael was born on Nov. 6, 1938 in Dublin, Ireland, to William and Julia (née Keane) and baptized on Nov. 16, 1938. The family moved to the United States and settled in Western New York, where Michael attended Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Grammar School in Buffalo, N.Y. He completed his high school education and the first two years of college at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
In 1958, Michael was received into the Franciscan Order on June 14 at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J., and professed his first vows one year later. He studied philosophy at St. Francis College in Rye Beach, N.H., earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University in 1961, and theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. Michael made his solemn profession on Aug. 22, 1962 at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y., and was ordained on March 13, 1965 at Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
Following his fifth year of theological education, Michael’s first assignment following ordination was in Puerto Rico, where he worked in the parish of St. Mary of the Angels from 1965 to 1970 as assistant and pastor, and from 1972 to 1973 as an assistant at Stella Maris, both located in San Juan. After the Province withdrew from Puerto Rico, Michael worked for a year as an assistant at Holy Name Parish in Lima, Peru, before returning to the United States.
Next followed a short stint of assignments: as an assistant from October 1974 to March 1975 at Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, N.J.; as a full-time chaplain to migrant workers from March to April in Vero Beach, Fla.; and from April to June as a minister to migrant workers in Elmer, N.J.
In July 1975, Michael began working at Holy Cross Parish in the Clason Point neighborhood of the Bronx, N.Y. Six years later, he joined St. Anthony’s Guild to work at the Province’s Anthony Houses in Passaic and Jersey City, N.J., which offered 10 days of room and board to those in need.
In 1982, he earned his master’s degree in pastoral counseling from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. One year later, he began working as an associate at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., signaling the beginning of 35 years in parish ministry. In 1987, he moved to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he worked as an associate until 2007, with the exception of a brief sabbatical in 1987. After 20 years at St. Francis, he moved uptown to Holy Name of Jesus Parish on West 96th Street, where he ministered for another 10 years. In 2010 and 2011, he periodically served as a chaplain on cruise ships.
Last month, Michael moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., shortly before he died.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
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