Biographies

Father John K. Byrne, MM

Born: March 3, 1916
Ordained: June 11, 1944
Died: October 27, 1993

Father John Kelly Byrne died in Montanchez Caceres, Spain,on October 27, 1993. He was 77 years of age and a Maryknoll priest for 49 years.

Father Byrne was born on March 3, 1916, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, son of John and Mary Kelly Byrne. He has one brother, Joseph. John attended the Public Grade and High School in Dunmore. He attended the St. Thomas University in Scranton and secured a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education on June 5, 1938. He entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard) on September 17, 1938 for one year and Maryknoll Novitiate, Bedford, Massachusetts for one year, and then was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, New York, on June 11, 1944. After ordination, Father Byrne was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission in Puno, Peru on July 30, 1944. In those early days in Puno, Maryknollers were involved in a variety of works. Father Byrne became a very good linguist, despite the paucity of good language schools then. After Spanish language study he was appointed substitute Pastor of the Pucara Parish for a short period and then was appointed Director of the Primary and High School in Puno. In 1950 he was appointed Director of Colegio San Ambrosio (a seminary high school) in Puno Diocese, Peru. He served as an excellent organizer in the administration of the Colegio and helped out in parochial work. In 1952 he was appointed Pastor of Ayaviri Parish in the Altiplano in the Department of Puno among Quechua people. He was a very able pastor and administrator. While on home furlough in 1955 he worked as contract Chaplain at the U. S. Air Force Base in Greenland for six months. Upon his return to Puno he resumed his position as Pastor of the Ayaviri Parish in March of 1956.

In 1958 Father Byrne was appointed Pastor of the Chucuito Parish in the Prelature of Juli. While on home furlough in April of 1962 he was assigned to the Denver Development House for the summer months, and then returned to Lima in October 1962. In 1970 he spent Holy Week with close Spanish friends in Seville, Spain, enjoying the processions and ceremonies. In 1975 he was given a special assignment as a contract Chaplain in the Peruvian Air Force Hospital in Miraflores, Lima, for a number of months. Thereafter he served as Director of the Maryknoll Society House in Lima for several years. After a home furlough in 1977 Father Byrne returned again to Maryknoll work in the Region and was assigned to work in Social Communications for the Peruvian Bishops Conference in Lima.

At his own request, Father Byrne was enrolled in the Special Society Unit on March 3, 1981 on the occasion of his 65th birthday. He kept his residence in Lima and continued in his Social Communications work. In February 1991 Father Byrne took up residence in Montanchez Caceres, Spain, where he lived with his close Spanish friends among the Diego Medina Martinez family until he died on October 27, 1993.

The funeral and interment were held in Spain and a Memorial Mass was offered on Friday, November 5, 1993 in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center in New York.