Biographies

Father John L. Callahan, MM

Born: September 12, 1931
Ordained: June 14, 1958
Died: April 15, 1931

John Leo Callahan died at St. Teresa’s residence at 8:30 Wednesday morning, April 15, 1992. He was 60 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 33 years.

John Leo was born on September 12, 1931, in Lowell, Massachusetts, son of Leo John and Helen Agnes Monahan Callahan. He has one brother, William, and one sister, Maryknoll Sister Anne Marie Callahan, who served in Hawaii for many years and is now serving in Guatemala. He attended St. Patrick’s Parochial School and graduated from Keith Academy run by the Xaverian Brothers in Lowell. During high school John was attracted to Maryknoll at a Vocation Conference held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and by the Maryknoll vocation notes which he received regularly after the Conference.

John entered Maryknoll College at Glen Ellyn, Illinois, in November of 1949. As a member of the first class to study at Glenn Ellyn, he graduated on June 7, 1953. He was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary in New York on June 14, 1958.

After ordination, Father Callahan was assigned to Maryknoll’s Development Department and served in the Chicago area for two years. His first foreign mission assignment was to Maryknoll’s Mission Region of Formosa (later Taiwan) on July 12, 1960. He attended language school for one year in Taichung and then was assigned Assistant Pastor of the Peitou Catholic Mission in the Diocese of Taichung. He later served as Assistant Pastor at Puli and Nan-Tun. In 1964, he was appointed Pastor of the new Chi-Hu mission where he lived alone in a large house that served both as rectory and church. There he experienced the cultural shock of being a lone foreigner with a congregation of about 70 Catholics living among a population of 80,000 people. For him it was a difficult time of adjustment and he found the work very challenging. After that he was appointed Pastor at Ta-Chia.

Father Callahan had a lively interest in his own ongoing formation, especially in the fields of catechetics and liturgy. His enthusiasm sparked other Maryknollers in Taiwan to undertake formal updating studies after Vatican Council II. He was noted by his fellow priests and his parishioners as a man of deep personal integrity with a simple goodness that inspired others to strive for goodness in themselves. Father Callahan himself said: “My missionary life is rooted in a vivid realization of the Risen Christ who informs our lives in everything we do.”

In January of 1966 he was granted a six-months home leave. On his return to Taiwan in July he was assigned as Pastor of the Ta-Chia mission where he served until a home leave in August of 1969. This home leave was extended to June of 1971 to enable him to take a Clinical Pastoral Education Course at Tewksbury Hospital in Massachusetts and receive a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Andover-Newton Theological School on May 24, 1971.

Having finished his updating courses, Father Callahan was assigned to Maryknoll’s Mission Region in the Philippines. Again he was faced with the strain of learning a new language and the customs of another people. This proved to be too difficult an experience for him and he returned to the United States on sick leave in 1973. During his recuperation period he was assigned to Maryknoll’s U.S. Region on May 1, 1975. He took up residence at Maryknoll, New York and worked in the Major Seminary Library, doing research work on publications dealing with South America and Africa for use by Maryknollers in those mission Areas.

On June 16, 1977 he was assigned to the Social Communications Department at Maryknoll, New York, where he worked in the Media Relations section of the Department. With utmost patience and dedication, he became an expert audio editor, producing a professional sound quality on the audio tapes of the “Voices of Our World” radio program distributed to commercial and public broadcasting stations throughout the country. He continued his work in Media Relations until early in 1989 when his poor health required that he give up his work. While in residence at the Center, he showed a keen interest in the well-being of foreign priests studying at the Maryknoll School of Theology. He was known to be a kind and gentle person. He moved to St. Teresa’s Residence in the early part of 1992.

Wake services were held on Monday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m. at St. Teresa’s Residence and at 7:30 p.m. in the Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center, New York. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated on Tuesday, April 21st at 11:30 a.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel. The Principal Celebrant was Father John Rich, a classmate. Father Donald Doherty preached the homily. Interment followed at Maryknoll Cemetery.