Société des Missions Africaines - Province des Etats-Unis

ELLIOTT William né le 30 mars 1927 à Castlebar (Co. Mayo)
dans l’archidiocèse de Tuam, Irlande
serment perpétuel le 28 mai 1952
prêtre le 7 février 1953
décédé le 28 mai 1994

1953-1961 Liberia
1961-1962 paroisse Saint-Cyprien, Georgetown
1963 diocèse de Miami, Floride
1964-1966 Chicago, supérieur
1966-1980 aumônier de collège puis d’hôpital
1977 Tenafly, économe local
1978 diocèse de Trenton

décédé à Englewood, Etats-Unis, le 28 mai 1994
à l’âge de 67 ans

Father William John ELLIOTT (1927 - 1994)

William Elliott was born in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland - the home address was Chapel Street - on March 30, 1927
He died in Englewood Hospital, Englewood, NJ, USA on May 28, 1994.

One of four children born to William and Margaret (nee Holland) Elliot, William (known as ‘Bill’ or ‘Billy’ in the Society) received his early education in Castlebar. In his adolescent years he discerned a missionary vocation and went to St. Joseph’s College, Wilton, Cork, the SMA’s secondary college. On completion of his course, in 1945, he remained in Cork for an additional year to attend University College. The following year, promoted to the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, he continued to attend lectures at University College Galway, majoring in philosophy and education and graduating with a B.A. degree in 1948. Bill came to the USA. in 1949 and commenced his study of theology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Later, in 1963, he was to receive a Master’s degree in Divinity from Darlington Seminary, Mahwah, N.J.; he also attended courses at Loyola University when he was stationed in Chicago. Bill became a permanent member of the Society on May 28, 1952. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop John M. McNamara, in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., on February 7, 1953. He was one of three SMA priests ordained on that day, the others being Eugene Riordan and Patrick O’Reilly. This ordination ceremony brought the total number of priests ordained since the formation of the American Province in 1941 to sixteen.

Bill spent the first eight years of his priestly life in the diocese of Cape Palmas, Liberia, a mission which was entrusted to the sole care of the American Province. His first appointment was to the town of Grand Cess where he ministered alone for four years (1953-1957). The use of making medicine from human body parts was not uncommon, although it was not acceptable by the Kru people, and although his interventions did save some lives, his efforts were generally unsuccessful. But he did gain considerable insight into the phenomenon of witchcraft which he was later to use in his dissertation for a degree at Darlington. During his home vacation in 1959 Bill acquired a pilot’s license entitling him to fly a single-engine, two seater, Piper Cub. This plane had been donated by the Knights of Columbanus of Pensacola for use in Liberia where roads were lacking and communication by air often the only means of contact between towns and regions.

After two four year tours in Liberia William was assigned to the Province’s missions to African-Americans in the Southern States. He was posted first to St. Cyprian’s parish, Georgetown, South Carolina. In May 1962 Bishop Carroll of Miami diocese sought SMA missionaries for an African-American parish located at Delray Beach, Florida Bill worked on this assignment through 1963 until May of the following year when he was appointed Superior of the SMA Promotion House and Vocations Center, on Ellis Avenue, Chicago (1964-66), which had been opened three years previously for the purpose of interesting young men in missionary work and particularly the missions of West Africa. During his time in Chicago Bill successfully established and organized the Perpetual Mass Association. In January 1966 he was sent to the SMA seminary in Washington, DC, to establish in that region the Perpetual Mass Association. A year later he came to Tenafly NJ and for the remaining thirteen years of his active priestly life he served in a variety of ministries, mainly in the capacity of chaplain. He was chaplain first at Chestnut Hill College, Pennsylvania, then at Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, N J and at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, NJ. In 1973 he took on the additional role of Local Bursar in the SMA Provincial House at Tenafly accepting the post for a second term in 1977; and from 1978 he exercised a weekend pastoral ministry at Toms River, NJ, in the diocese of Trenton. At much the same time he joined the Society’s ‘Program of Mission Education’, with specific responsibility to co-ordinate the Propagation of the Faith Collections which were assigned to the SMA Fathers by various dioceses.

Bill was a heavy smoker in his early years and later in life was afflicted with cardiac problems. He also battled with addiction and at times suffered from depression. He could be fiery and emotional, but his experience of personal struggle made him essentially a gentle, kind man, highly motivated and hard-working. In his latter years, he gained solace by gardening – of which he was an expert exponent - his specialty being the delicate rose, much like himself. Bill was well-known in Irish-American circles in Chicago and New York, and was a member of the President Kennedy Memorial Committee, New York.

He is buried in the SMA Community Plot, Mount St. Carmel Cemetery, Tenafly, NJ, USA.