Fr. Donald Hoag, OFM
Fr. Donald Hoag was born on Aug. 15, 1900, in Philadelphia, Pa. He was one of many Philadelphians recruited from St. Charles Borromeo Parish for the Franciscans by its sexton Charlie Zimmerman. He went to St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1917.
He was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., Aug. 16, 1922, professing temporary vows the following year. He made his profession of solemn vows in 1926 and was ordained a priest in Buffalo, N.Y., May 25, 1929.
Unlike his classmate and close friend, Fr. Celsus Wheeler, Fr. Donald’s ministerial career prior to his election was devoted to parish work. After brief assignments to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City and St. Joseph Friary in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany, N.Y., in 1932, becoming the pastor there in 1939.
In 1942, Fr. Donald volunteered to be a chaplain in the United States Army, and he spent four years in Western Europe with the 35th Infantry. He was with his men during the Battle of St. Lo, which was the bloodiest battle of the Normandy Invasion.
After leaving military service in 1946, Fr. Donald was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford, N.J. In 1952, he was elected to the Provincial Council and appointed director of retreats. In 1955, he became Provincial Vicar, and in 1961, was elected Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province.
Fr. Donald was a warm, affable friar who was considered free of pretense and ambition. He approached friars and people with a spirit of transparent honesty. During his administration, the Province reached its peak membership of 1022 friars and founded a mission in Peru.
After his term ended, Fr. Donald became pastor and guardian of Assumption of Our Lady Church in Wood-Ridge, N.J., and then at the age of 70, he moved to St. Catherine’s Parish in Ringwood, N.J. as senior associate. In 1971, he became the chaplain at Mount Saint Francis Convent in Ringwood. In 1983, he retired to St. Anthony’s Friary in Butler, N.J., but because of illness was transferred to St. Joseph’s Home in Totowa, N.J., where he died on June 21, 1984.
Fr. Donald was 83 years old, a professed friar for 60 years, and a priest for 55 years.