Société des Missions Africaines – Province des Etats-Unis

DUNNE William né le 1er janvier 1915 à Inchicore
dans le diocèse de Dublin
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1937
prêtre le 22 décembre 1940
décédé le 26 juillet 1959

1941-1942 paroisse Saint-Michel, New Jersey, vicaire
1942-1944 paroisse ND de Lourdes, Atlanta, vicaire
1944-1949 paroisse Saint-Augustin, Illinois, curé
1949-1959 Tenafly, New Jersey

décédé à Teaneck, USA, le 26 juillet 1959,
à l’âge de


Le père William DUNNE (1915 - 1959)

A Teaneck (New-Jersey), aux Etats-Unis, le 26 juillet 1959, retour à Dieu du père William Dunne, à l'âge de 44 ans.

William Dunne naquit dans le diocèse de Dublin (Irlande), en 1915. Il fit ses études à Limerick et sortit diplômé. Il fit son noviciat à Kilcogan et son grand séminaire à Dromantine. Admis dans la Société en 1937, il fut ordonné prêtre en 1940. Ne jouissant pas d'une bonne santé, le père Dunne partit pour les Etats-Unis.

D'abord vicaire à Cranford, puis à Notre-Dame de Lourdes d'Atlanta, le père Dunne devint, en 1944, curé de Saint-Augustin à East-Saint-Louis. A partir de 1949, il résida à la maison provinciale à Tenafly, s'y occupant de l'administration et de la propagande. Il mourut à l'hôpital de Teaneck.

Father William Joseph DUNNE (1915 - 1959)

William Dunne was born at Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland (the family address was 2 Turney Avenue, Inchicore), in the archdiocese of Dublin, on January 1, l9l5. He died in Holy Name hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA on July 26, l959.

William (Willie) was one of four children born to Patrick and Mary (nee Patterson) Dunne in Dublin. He received his elementary education from the Sisters of Mercy, at Inchicore. He then went to the Christian Brothers in James Street, Dublin, leaving in 1929 to go to a Commercial School in Parnell Square. In 1933, making up his mind to be a priest, William went to the Jesuit College at Mungret, Co Limerick, where he completed his secondary education, graduating in June 1935. In September of the same year he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. There, two years later, on June 29, 1937, he took his oath of membership of the Society. He received his theological training in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern, of Dromore diocese, on December 22, 1940, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry. He was one of a group of nineteen ordained on that day.

After ordination William returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theological formation. His superiors decided that his health would not sustain exposure to the African climate, but it was not difficult to find an alternative appointment. Since the first decade of the century the Society had developed an apostolate to African-Americans. The earliest missionaries to the USA were drawn from among Alsatian members of the Society. They established missions in the cities of Savannah, Atlanta and Augusta, in the State of Georgia. The Irish Province had also established works in the USA, in the early 1920's, in the cities of East St. Louis and Cairo, both in Illinois. Other foundations had been made over the years and in March 1941 an American Province of the Society was erected. This Province was desperately short of staff to minister in its growing number of mission parishes and especially to promote the new Province and direct its seminaries. Stephen Harrington, the Irish Provincial, received numerous requests from the American Provincial, Ignatius Lissner and from the Superior General, Maurice Slattery, to supply personnel for these works. During the war years twelve priests of the Irish Province were seconded to the American Province, many of them subsequently becoming members. William was one of those appointed to the USA.

William's departure for America was delayed because of wartime restrictions on travel. While awaiting a passage he was among a group of Fathers, led by Phil Corish, who laid down the beautiful gardens in the Provincial headquarters at Blackrock Road, with their rare flowers and shrubs, leafy arbours, tiled walks, ponds and sun-dial. Eventually, in December 1942, William reached America where he was appointed to help Anthony McAndrew, superior of Queen of Apostles seminary, Washington DC, in raising funds. This involved preaching in parishes and visiting schools. But William had additional responsibilities. At this time Fr. Lissner was in receipt of numerous requests from American bishops for help in replacing priests who had volunteered as army chaplains. Some of these bishops were strong supporters of the Society, so Fr. Lissner had little choice but to respond. William and the six young Irish priests, who came to America with him in 1942, were therefore deployed, from time to time, in supplying for absent priests. William did several such ‘supplies’, mainly in upstate New York and New Jersey, and one in Florida.

In 1945 Fr. Lissner appointed William to St. Peter Claver's mission parish, Macon, Georgia, to assist Michael McKeever. This mission parish, founded by Fr. Lissner in 1913, had an African-American Catholic community of 160 members and 10 catechumens. In 1946 William became a member of the American Province and in the same year was assigned to assist John Mulvey, the first American member of the Province (born in America and trained in the SMA seminary) who had been ordained in 1943. Fr. Lissner had posted Fr. Mulvey to Our Lady of Lourdes parish, in Atlanta but, as he explained to the Irish Provincial, he needed 'an experienced missionary' by his side. Fr. Lissner had always been impressed by the quality of William's work, whether in the sphere of promotion or in the parish ministry. William received his next assignment in 1948 when a new Provincial, Peter Harrington, appointed him to St. Augustine's parish in East St. Louis. Two years later William was assigned to the promotion staff at Tenafly, New Jersey. He was to spend the remainder of his life in this work, also assisting in the administration of the Province.

William's obituary in the African Angelus, the journal of the American Province, records that for much of his life he suffered from a weak heart and sustained several heart-attacks over a long period. Nonetheless he bore his illness with fortitude. He was also a man of considerable physical courage. Not long before his death he climbed up one of the great New York suspension bridges and successfully helped to talk down a young man who wanted to take his own life. This exploit wrought havoc with his health but he had saved a life. William had a fine singing voice and a wit that was droll and original. His thoughtfulness was often remarked upon by his confreres. So too was his commitment to missions. On his death-bed he arranged for a fund to be set up for the education of African priests - which endured long after his death.

He is buried in Mount Carmel cemetery, Tenafly, New Jersey, USA.