Father Francis J. Winslow, MM
Born: June 14, 1898
Ordained: June 17, 1923
Died: December 20, 1986
When news was first received of the death of Father Winslow, it was remarked: “The end of a legend.” Seventy years within the Maryknoll Family and almost all of that long span at Mother Knoll.
Francis J. Winslow was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 14, 1898 and baptized in St. Mary’s Church a few days later. The family moved to Framingham where Francis received most of his schooling. While
in the local high school, a priest from the Society of the Propagation of the Faith spoke at the Sunday Masses and after some reflection and counsel, serious thoughts of being a missionary were entertained. The family had also been receiving the Field Afar. In September, 1916, the Winslow-Powers pair from Boston reached the Venard, by boat to New York and train to Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania.
After Ordination in 1923 Fr. Winslow studied Canon Law and received his Doctorate and became a very important person within the young and growing society; he had also won the respect and confidence of Father James A. Walsh. Despite his training, it was accepted that a mission assignment was everybody’s goal. Father Superior privately told Francis that he was on the assignment list; unexpected illness soon followed and the withdrawal of his name was inevitable. He would, however, remain in many key positions in the Society over the many years of service.
In preparation for the first Society Chapter, when the Constitutions would be discussed, Fr. Winslow spent a year in Rome, not only working on the Constitutions but also as a student in Canon Law at the Gregorian. In 1929 the First Chapter was evidence of the influence of the young priest, only six years ordained, and for many subsequent Canon Law problems within Maryknoll, Fr. Winslow was the principal authority. He wrote and published works on various mission topics; was often called upon to speak, both to groups and by radio on missionary themes. In order to prepare himself for such public occasions, he kept interest in the work overseas, actually visiting the three mission areas of the Society and found such trips most invigorating and stimulating. He had opportunities to meet men he had taught as seminarians, a number raised to the episcopate and all hard at work in varied sectors. He was a most welcome guest and the stories have abounded as to the receptions he received in Asia, Africa and Latin America. He, in turn, had a capacity to welcome men at the Center, and found it relatively easy to contribute to conversations with them.
For the past fifteen years Fr. Francis has seldom missed his daily Mass at the Sisters Center; the same for his Saturday morning Confession sessions. It is doubtful if anybody among the Fathers knew more of the Sisters. They, too, have stories of his chaplaincy that will be repeated and grow for years ahead. He was most grateful that it was possible to keep active in this ministry and his many years on both sides of the road have contributed legitimately to the legend that will bring joy and happiness to ages yet unborn.
All of Fr. Winslow’s classmates had gone to the Lord. He had attained, almost two years ago, the distinction of being the senior member of the Society and he was getting the best of medical care. His final illness at Phelps was almost two weeks along but he pleaded to return to St. Teresa’s where he wanted to spend his final days. God was good and brought him home safely and as a last petition that he wanted to see his God before Christmas. The news was received on Saturday, December 20, that he had been released from human bondage. The Responsorial Psalm of the day could have been his final prayer: Let the Lord enter; He is King of Glory. Father Francis carries on as a legend, 70 years a Maryknoller, the longest period in the pilgrimage of any son of Maryknoll. May he rest in peace.
At 4:00 p.m. on Monday, the 22nd, there was a concelebrated Mass at the Sisters Convent with Fr. Ed Manning as principal celebrant and Fr. Bernard Byrne as Homilist. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on December 23, with Fr. William Boteler as principal celebrant and Fr. Byrne as Homilist. Fr. Robert Sheridan wrote and read the biography and Fr. Joseph Picardi conducted the graveside service.