McDonough, James A.Died
Jesuit Father James A. McDonough, age 101, died on Dec. 31, 2012, at Murray-Weigel Hall, Bronx, N.Y. He was a Jesuit for 83 years, a priest for 70 years.
He was born on Oct. 17, 1911, in the Bronx, and after completing Cathedral High School, he entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 14, 1929, at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He completed his novitiate at Wernersville, Pa., followed by two years of collegiate studies there.
For the study of philosophy he journeyed to Eegenhoven, Belgium (1933-36). This was followed by one year at Saint Louis University studying the classics and receiving the M.A. For his regency taught Latin and German at Loyola High School, Towson, Md. (1937-39). In preparation for priesthood, from 1939-43 he studied theology at Woodstock College, Woodstock, Md., and was ordained a priest on June 21, 1942, at that college.
As a young priest he taught French at St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J., from 1944-47. Because of his ability and interest in languages, both classical and modern, he proceeded to Harvard University where he gained his doctorate in Classical Philology in 1952 under the renowned Professor Werner Jaeger. This led him to edit two major volumes in the critical editions of the writings of Gregory of Nyssa.
With degree in hand, he taught young Jesuits in the collegiate program at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from 1953-69. He taught the classics, but also gave lectures on classical music and taught Russian to a few students. Fr. McDonough had an insatiable curiosity and a wide variety of interests and was always learning something new. Indeed, always the student as well as the teacher, later in life he would study Japanese and Chinese.
At the age of 58, responding to the need for teachers at the University of Guam, he traveled across the Pacific to begin 36 years there teaching many different subjects and filling a number of administrative positions as need arose. He was even acting president of the university for a brief period. Known as “Father Mac,” he assisted pastorally at Santa Barbara Catholic Church in Dededo, Guam, for over 30 years.
He translated and edited the English translation of the letters, writings and life of Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, the Spanish martyr who brought the Catholic faith to Micronesia in the 17th century.
In 2005 he returned to New York and lived at Loyola Hall in the Bronx until 2006, when he was assigned to the Jesuit infirmary at Murray-Weigel Hall. Throughout his life he exhibited a unique harmony of eruditio et pietas – erudition and holiness, sharing his wisdom and knowledge with young Jesuits in the USA and with the students and faithful of Guam.