Biographies

Father Andrew J. Cassidy, MM

Born: March 1, 1924
Ordained: June 16, 1954
Died: June 30, 1981

Father Andrew John Cassidy, of the Mexico Region, died on June 30th at Nutrition Hospital in Mexico City. He had gone to considerable effort to conceal the fact that he had been suffering for some time, as it was his deepest wish and concern that he could live out his remaining years in the apostolate among the Mexican people whom he loved and served so dearly. His condition, of course, was known by his superior in Mexico, Fr. John Lomasney, and to ourselves here in Central Administration. Our one comfort is that Andy had taken all the normal medical steps that were available to him. It is our feeling that he did not share the seriousness of his illness with others because he did not want to call undue attention to himself.

Andy’s sister, Mrs. Anne Means, went to Mexico to spend a week with him just prior to his death. Upon her return to the States, Andy was making plans to visit her and the rest of the family later in the summer.

Father Cassidy was born in New York City on March 1, 1924 to Andrew and Margaret Kilboy Cassidy. His parents were born in Ireland. His early schooling was at St. Ignatius Grammar School and Regis High in New York City. After graduating high school he went to St. John’s University and Yale before entering the Armed Forces. He served in the Army during the Second World War in the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhine campaign across central Europe for three years. In 1946 he entered the Venard and was ordained on June 16, 1954.

Immediately after ordination Andy was assigned to Yucatan and worked for a number of years among the Mayan Indians. From 1960 to 1965 he worked in the Development Department in New York City and in Buffalo where he served as Director of the house. In 1965, Andy returned to the Mexican Region. He served as Regional Superior for two terms beginning in 1972. His most recent assignment was at San Jeronimo Parish with Fr. Frank Collins.

It was while he was in high school that Andy met his first Maryknoller, Fr. John Martin, who gave a talk at Regis High. After this first meeting he kept in contact with Fr. Martin and later he wrote “without a doubt the interest and counsel of Father Martin was the most important factor in my coming to the Society.”

In all that Andy said and did, he was forever the “gentle man” – the person who never inflicted pain. If he differed from you he made that known in a considerate and respectful way, often accompanied by subtle humor and a winning smile. A voracious reader with a deep interest in and appreciation of literature, his speech was frequently punctuated with quotations from famous English writers of both prose and poetry. Andy spoke and preached well.

It was very clear to everyone who had spoken with Andy during these last few months about his illness, that his most fervent desire was that he would finish his mission life where he began it, in Mexico with brother Maryknollers and the Mexican people whom he loved so dearly. During these last six days, he was in the company of his family and fellow Maryknollers. Fr. Frank Collins administered the Last Rites to him.

A Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated July 1 at St. Jeronimo’s Church in Mexico City. Burial followed in the Panteon there. On July 6th Mass was celebrated at Maryknoll, N.Y. with Fr. Robert Lloyd as Principal Celebrant and Fr. John Lomasney as Homilist.

Andy wrote many years ago that “a foreign missioner has to be one who becomes acclimated to a strange country, adopts the customs of the people with the hope of spreading Christianity by preaching, teaching and administering the Sacraments, and giving good example as well as raising a native clergy.” This certainly was an ideal Andy lived out until the very end, and so we can be sure the Lord greets him today with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”