Biographies

Father Joseph C. Stack, MM

Born: November 23, 1874
Ordained: December 17, 1921
Died: July 27, 1949

Joseph C. Stack was born in the Jesuit parish of St. Aloysius in Washington, D.C. on November 23, 1874. He received his early education in the school of the Notre Dame Sisters. After two years he entered a public school for one year of high school. In 1890 he left school and was apprenticed to a draftsman. After one and a half years he went to work as a draftsman for patent attorneys and then worked for the government in this same capacity. In the meanwhile he continued his education, studied law and received an LL. B degree in 1904 from Georgetown. A year later he obtained a degree in patent law from the George Washington University and was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of the District. Between 1905 and 1910 he practiced as a patent attorney. Then his health began to fail causing him to resign from the law firm and he returned to his former occupation as a draftsman.

In 1908 the idea of becoming a priest first came to his mind. But the fact that he was 34 years old discouraged him from giving it serious consideration. It was not until 1914, the year his mother died, that Joseph’s confessor agreed that he should act on his attraction to the priesthood. A cousin who attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore told Joseph about Father Price, who had paid a visit to the seminary. The idea of foreign missions struck him immediately and he lost no time in writing to Maryknoll. He also visited Maryknoll and was accepted in September, 1914. But because of his age it was only for a year of probation.

Father Stack was forty years old and had never studied Latin but this did not discourage him. He persevered in studies and was ready for ordination in the spring of 1921. However, due to the sudden death of Cardinal Gibbons, his ordination was deferred until December of 1921.

His first assignment was to the Procure in New York. Then he was appointed to teach at the Venard, remaining there for two years. From here he entered the field of promotion in Philadelphia and in many parts of the Middle West. In 1927 he returned to Maryknoll Center where he acted as confessor to the students and priests. He was also called to give retreats and help out in nearby parishes. Too old to be sent to the missions, he fulfilled his apostolate by prayers and resignation to the will of God. He died peacefully on July 27, 1949 and burial was at Maryknoll.