Biographies

Brother Patrick J. Walsh, MM

Born: July 27, 1893
Oath: August 28, 1934
Died: May 22, 1980

Brother Columba (Patrick James) Walsh, died on Thursday evening, May 22, 1980 at Phelps Memorial Hospital, Tarrytown, New York. In recent weeks Brother had been failing rapidly.  Over the years he had overcome other illnesses; certainly all who knew him as a vigorous, gentle man, would not at all have been conscious of the physical limitations he suffered since 1944.

Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on July 27, 1893, Columba was baptized Patrick, the only child of Patrick Walsh and Catherine Prosper. When Pat was four years old his father died, a tragedy that later influenced his life most particularly through his determination to care for his mother who herself died in 1931. Patrick passed through seven years of training with the Christian Brothers at the Holy Cross School, where he developed his trade as a carpenter. For seventeen years he worked as carpenter, painter and mason, with the primary goal of caring for his then elderly mother.

Two months after his mother’s death, Pat applied to Maryknoll through the direction of Fr. Edward P. Maher, who affirmed that Patrick was “desirous of the religious life since his youth, but unable to enter because of the necessity of supporting his aging mother.”

From the beginning of his career with Maryknoll, Pat was a model of brotherhood – “a man devoted to his community and to the work of the Society.” In applying to Maryknoll he stated: “I would like to give my life to God on the foreign missions as a lay brother, assisting priests in their various works.” When, during his training, Patrick (who was now Columba) was asked to write 2,000 words about his vocation, he merely stated: “I became a brother in order that I might have the opportunity of doing good, to do something for God, souls, and myself.”

Because of his talents as a carpenter, and his example to the community of priests and brothers, his superiors decided that Columba remain at the Maryknoll Center through all of his religious life – the sole exception being one year at the Bedford Novitiate in the construction of the chapel. This decision was influenced by Columba’s health, which led him from carpentry to work in the library. The main reason, however, was that Columba was a bulwark of the Brothers Community, one noted for his kindness and fidelity to hard work; one who was always respectful, loyal, obedient and generous; one whose life was summed up with the single word – grand. All the candidates who arrived at Maryknoll unfailingly would be impressed by the generosity and sincerity of Columba. He enjoyed younger brothers and found it practically impossible to remain idle.

There was a Wake Service on May 25, 1980 and Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on the following day with Fr. James Noonan as principal Celebrant, Fr. Joseph Conners as Homilist and Fr. Thomas McDermott as biographer.

Columba became a citizen of the United States on June 14, 1979 – a cause of great celebration for him. All who celebrated with him were conscious that soon God would call him to his final homeland. He was the best of missioners. Although travelling only a short distance in his career, he travelled the world through the Maryknollers he influenced. May God hold him in the palm of His Hand.