Société des Missions Africaines –Province desEtats-Unis

HARRINGTON John né le 17 août 1917 à Philadelphia
dans le diocèse de Philadelphia, USA
serment perpétuel le 28 septembre 1947
prêtre le 7 février 1948
décédé le 13 juillet 1983

1948-1950 Dedham, séminaire, professeur
1950-1952 études supérieures en philosophie
1953-1955 San Antonio, Texas, professeur de théologie
et de philosophie
1956-1959 Dedham, professeur de philosophie
1959-1960 Tenafly
1961-1964 Washington, séminaire
1964-1979 Dedham
1979-1983 Southfield, Michigan, retiré

décédé à Southfield, USA, le 13 juillet 1983,
à l'âge de 66 ans

Father John Joseph HARRINGTON (1917 - 1983)

John Harrington was born in Philadelphia, PA, USA, in the parish of the Transfiguration, on August 17, 1917. He died in Harper Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, USA, on July 13, 1983.

John Harrington was the only boy in a family of three born to John and Sarah (nee Gilroy) Harrington. The family lived at 5641 Hazel Avenue, Philadelphia, his father working in the civil service. John attended St. Agatha’s Grade School in his parish. He received his second level education at West Philadelphia Catholic High School (1932-1936). During these years he won a variety of awards which revealed a talented young man. Among them were medals for Symphony Orchestra, for US History, and for Leadership. Most important, perhaps, he won a four year scholarship to Villanova College where, four years later (1940), he graduated with an Honors AB degree. At this point John decided to study for the priesthood. To prepare himself he attended St. Joseph’s College, City Line, where he did an intermediate course in Latin and Greek. He was then admitted to the Overbrook diocesan seminary in Philadelphia taking classics for a year, philosophy for two years and a further two years studying theology. At this time he was described as being ‘a serious student, of better than average ability, who did well in his studies’. This was something of an understatement, for during his second-level and third-level studies he won awards for Philosophy, Sociology, Ethics and Psychology and was also given First Honors for German. However his superiors in St. Charles felt that his disposition would be more suited to membership of a religious society and it was against this background that he applied for membership of the SMA in 1946. On entering the SMA in March of that year he went to the Marist College in Harewood Road, Washington DC, to complete his theological course. During this time he also took courses in the Catholic University. John was received as a member of the Society on June 3, 1947. He was ordained to priesthood at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, by Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle, on February 7, 1948. He was the first American-born member of the SMA’s American Province.

After ordination, not surprisingly given his excellent academic record, John was appointed to the staff of Queen of Apostles College and Seminary at Washington DC. Two years later, in 1950, he commenced Ph.D. studies in the Catholic University, and was awarded the degree in 1953. For the next two years, while teaching in Incarnate Word College, San Antonio, Texas and serving as Chairman of the Departments of Philosophy and Theology, he was an instructor in the CU Summer School program, South Branch, San Antonio. Between 1955-59 John taught in Queen of Apostles College, Dedham. He served next, briefly, in St. Benedict’s parish, Savannah, helping out in Pius X High School as Moderator of religious classes. In 1960 he was appointed to the Promotion Staff at Tenafly. A year later, in 1961, he became Spiritual Director at Queen of Apostles House of Studies, Washington DC, returning to the Dedham college three years later where he was Registrar. Increasingly he became involved in the work of Promotion in Dedham, but also found time to take courses in theology and philosophy at Boston College in order better to aid the seminarians.

John spent the years 1979-1983 at Southfield, Michigan, in retirement, living with his sister and her family at Berkshire Drive. During those years he was frequently ill, suffering from cancer, and a marked deterioration of a eyesight disability which had affected him throughout his life. John did not remain idle during these years. He continued to celebrate Mass at a local residence for the elderly. He also, in his own words, ‘tried to keep up with the thinking of the Church by attending classes and workshops. And it was no surprise that, always the scholar, he should enroll in Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Michigan, where he received a degree of Master of Religious Education on May 1, 1982. This marked the completion of studies which he had commenced at Boston College in 1977. John died after a long illness in Harper Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.

John was well-known to all the SMA students who passed through the seminaries during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. There were differing views on John’s qualities as a teacher. At the time of his death an obituary in the Frontline Report captured accurately the flavor of the man. ‘By nature he was extremely shy and retiring. Nonetheless he had many friends wherever he lived and served: Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, San Antonio, Tenafly – and kept in touch with them by circular letters. Moreover, despite his quiet nature, he was always out in the midst of people whether taking graduate courses at Boston College or participating in Cursillo retreats and other religious programs. Although he never had the opportunity to serve in Africa, his interest in SMA and Africa never abated. Just a few months before his death he flew to Boston from Michigan to participate in a preparatory meeting for the upcoming General and Provincial Assemblies. When his eyesight failed, some ten years before his death, he continued to read omnivorously through the eyes of friends who volunteered to help him. His keen and searching mind was the window to the world that gave him a broader perspective on human existence than most others…Although he rarely engaged in small talk or even discoursed on deeper subjects, he was always interested in and attentive to what others had to say on a subject. He enjoyed being with people but was content to remain on the fringes of a conversation. Often this very reticence made him a strong and profound presence for goodness in the lives of many people’.

Another confrere described John as a ‘genuine eccentric in his manner and behavior, highly methodical, highly introverted.

He is buried in Michigan.