Father Francis D. MacRae, MM
Born: April 28, 1998
Ordained: January 26, 1930
Died: August 7, 1985
Father Francis MacRae died at Phelps Memorial Hospital on August 7, 1985. He was 88 years old.
He was born on April 28, 1898 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of migrant parents from Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was 22 when he applied to Maryknoll. His parish priest wrote this recommendation to Father James A. Walsh: “He comes of a good family; his sister is a nun in the Holy Childhood Community, teaching in Philadelphia. He is tall, well-knit and of rugged health. He will not be afraid of work or hardship. After a year in high school he went to work in the local post office until the war. He was in the service in this country. After the war he worked as an agent for a Boston firm. Since the war he has been thinking over his future very seriously and has come to the conclusion that nothing is worthy of ambition except work for the Lord. Social pleasures pall on him. He wishes to become a priest and to go to the foreign mission. I feel quite sure that he will make a first-class subject for you; and this is the conviction of the other priests here who know him even better than I. He has a very agreeable, quiet manner and is very much in earnest.”
Father Francis was accepted and was ordained January 26, 1930. Since then, Father carried out his missionary career in many places and in many different positions. He first went to Wuchow, China and stayed until ill health made him come back to the States. The Society Superior wrote that Father Francis was in perhaps the hardest mission, due to the type of Christians there and that it was a nerve exhausting assignment. He writes: “His admirable sense of humor has saved his section of the mission from disaster; I think any other one of us would have lost many Christians in the past two years, due to many trials, mostly of the unworthy catechist type. His humor supported me not a little in the delicate situation I found myself in. He does very well in all his mission work; he gives unsparingly of himself. He is an excellent priest, regular and faithful, adaptable to any situation. At this present time I know of no one who could handle the situation better.”
In spite of illness over the years, he took many assignments in the U.S., such as promotion work in 1937 at Bedford, Massachusetts; then in St. Paul and Akron. He took an overseas mission again in 1945 in Lima, Peru but had to return because of ill health in June of 1946. He was in various works in the States until his assignment to Hawaii in 1960. In 1970 he was assigned to the U.S. Region.
In 1980 he requested to live at St. Teresa’s in order to be closer to his relatives in Connecticut. In his later years Father Francis became more and more involved in the Fatima Project and in 1981 he was active in receiving the Fatima statue and arranging for the ceremonies here in the area.
Francis was aware of his own limitations and relied on the Lord’s power and grace and Our Blessed Lady’s assistance throughout the years of his missionary priesthood. He expressed his gratitude in the following way: “I realize the utter inadequacy of words to thank God for this opportunity He has given me, that is, of acting as His messenger to those who have never heard His Name.”