Société des Missions Africaines - Province des Etats-Unis

FEELEN Michael Joseph né le 9 septembre 1917 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
serment perpétuel le 17 juin 1939
prêtre le 30 mars 1941
décédé 11 juillet 2001

1941-1943 paroisse Sainte-Marie, Rutherford
1943-1950 paroisse Saint-Benoît, Savannah
1950-1952 paroisse Sainte-Odile, Los Angeles
1952-1957 Dedham, supérieur du séminaire
1957-1965 aumônier militaire
1965-1966 aumônier de collège à Philadelphie
1966-1968 paroisse Sainte-Marie Madeleine, Floride
1968-1971 repos en Irlande
1971 paroisse Saints Pierre et Paul, Honolulu
1971-1974 repos en Irlande
1974-1979 aumônier d’hôpital, West Roxbury
1976-1981 aumônier, Dedham
1981-1996 aumônier militaire, Dedham
1996-2001 Dedham, à la retraite

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 11 juillet 2001
à l’âge de 83 ans

Father Michael Joseph FEELY (1917 - 2001)

Michael Joseph Feeley was born in Cork city, Ireland, on September 9, 1917. He died in the Bon Secours Hospital, Cork, on July 11, 2001.

Michael Feeley (known as ‘Mike’ in the Society and ‘Joe’ in the family [to distinguish him from his father]) was one of three children born to Michael Joseph and Hanorah (nee Kehilly) Feeley. The family address was 2, Saint Kevin Street, Cork city. Michael received his elementary and secondary school education at the Presentation Brothers school, on Cork’s Western Road. In September 1934 he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway; on June 29, 1936 he was received as a member of the Society. Michael received his theological formation in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. He was raised to the priesthood on Palm Sunday, March 30, 1941, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry. Michael was one of two members of the Society ordained on that day; the second was James Healy who was to spend most of his active missionary life in Nigeria.

In March 1941 the Society’s American branch, which had mission parishes among African-Americans in Georgia, Illinos and Los Angeles, was erected as a full Province of the Society. Short of personnel to staff its houses of formation, to raise funds and administer, and to work both in the mission parishes and in a mission in Africa soon to be confided to the Province, several requests were made to the Irish Province for help. The Irish Provincial, Stephen Harrington made a number of men available and Michael was among them. Arriving in America on December 26, 1942, he was appointed to St. Mary’s Church, Rutherford, NJ. Father Lissner, the Provincial, sent him there at the request of the Archbishop of Newark several of whose pastors and associates had gone to the war as chaplains. In July 1943 Michael was no longer needed and he was assigned to one of the Society’s mission parishes in Georgia, that of St. Benedict the Moor, in Savannah. During the seven years he spent there he was responsible for building a fine new church, a source of much pride to the people there. Michael’s next posting, given him in August 1950, was to St. Odilia’s parish in Los Angeles, where he served until September 1952. While in Los Angeles he attended Loyola University, acquiring a BA degree in philosophy in June 1952. It was also in Los Angeles that he became an American citizen (September 14, 1951). Michael’s next posting was to Queen of Apostles Seminary, Dedham, Mass. where he was Superior until 1957. During these years he oversaw the construction of a striking new seminary facility. At this point his priestly career took a change of direction as he became a chaplain with the United States Army. With the rank of Captain, Michael served in Germany (Crailsheim and Heilbronn), France and also in Texas, California, New York and Alabama (March 1957-July 1965). On his retirement from the service, due to increasing ill-health, he was awarded a certificate of achievement for his ministry which is preserved in the archives of the American Province at Tenafly. He also was chaplain at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, for a year.

Suffering from asthma Michael now sought an assignment to a warmer climate in the hope that he could continue in the active ministry. In 1966 he went to St Mary Magdalen Church in Maitland, Florida, as an associate pastor. However his health deteriorated and two years later he took medical leave, returning to Ireland where he remained recuperating for several years. In 1971, eager to return to priestly service, he was assigned to SS. Peter and Paul Church in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he and his superiors once again hoped the climate might enable him to work again. Sadly he was able to serve only six months there before medical needs forced him to return to Ireland for another extended rest and treatment period.

In 1974 Michael returned to the SMA house at Dedham and to active ministry, firstly for five years as chaplain at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in West Roxbury and for a further five years as chaplain to the Norfolk County House of Corrections and Prison, located in Dedham. During this period he also served a 15-year chaplaincy to the American Legion Post that earned him a Certificate of Appreciation from the organization. In 1981, when ill-health forced him to curtail his chaplaincies, Michael received Certificate of Merit from the High Sheriff of Norfold County in Massachusetts for his work in the Correctional Facility. In a letter to the SMA Provincial Superior, the Norfold County Sheriff wrote: ‘Father Feeley has been a true spiritual inspiration to all staff and inmate-residents alike… His mission to serve God and mankind is exemplified by his unending faith and trust in God. His service to the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department was invaluable.’

From 1981 until his death, Michael was again forced into retirement by ill-health. He made efforts to find places where he could serve despite his health problems, turning especially to warm climates, but recurring illness dashed his plans. He remained in Dedham until his return to Ireland shortly before his death. There he lived for a short while with his sister Beata in Glountane and then, after a brief period in Ballynoe Nursing Home, White’s Cross, took up residence in Blackrock Road on April 10, 2001. He was particularly happy during his last days to welcome old comrades – many of whom he had not seen for years – who came from the retirement home in Blackrock to visit him in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit.

Michael’s only brother, John, was a priest in the diocese of Southward, England, who came to teach in the Catholic University, Washington DC and later retired to Paris. He died during 2002 and is buried in Wilton Cemetery. John also he four cousins in religion: Sister Clare Feeley, St. John of God, Ireland; Rev. Joseph Feeley, Manchester; Rev. Dennis Kehilly, Cork; and Mother M. Feeley, Poor Clares, England. Both Michael’s siblings, Beta and John, were made honorary members of the Society in 1991.

He is buried in the SMA Cemetery, at Wilton, Cork, Ireland.