Father John F. Harrington, MM
Born: September 10, 1923
Ordained: June 10, 1950
Died: December 16, 1994
Father John Francis Harrington died at 7:00 P.M. on Friday, December 16, in Phelps Memorial Hospital, North Tarrytown, New York. He was 71 years of age and a Maryknoll priest for 44 years.
John F. Harrington was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on September 10, 1923, son of John F. and Irene May Harrington. He had one sister, Irene Harrington Tarmey. He attended St. Mary’s Boys High School in Lynn and studied at Boston College for one year. John entered the Maryknoll Junior Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, on August 1, 1942 and was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, New York, on June 10, 1950.
After ordination, Father Harrington was assigned to do Development-Promotion work and served for 10 years in St. Louis, Missouri, Lakewood, New Jersey, New Orleans, Louisiana, Houston, Texas and New York City, New York.
On April 13, 1960 he was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Guatemala. Upon receiving his assignment from the Superior General, Fr. Harrington wrote to Bishop Comber on Good Friday and said, “To you and the Council, my sincere thanks for the assignment to Guatemala. Kind of hard to believe after ten years but it was really a Good Friday – believe me. Thanks for your kind words and especially the promise of prayers that I do well for the Church and the Society as a missioner. I’ll really try my best.”
After language studies, he served as chaplain of Las Beatas in Guatemala City and also served as promotion Director for the Guatemala Region throughout the country. In July 1965 he was recalled to the United States for Promotion work and was assigned as Director of the Detroit Development House. In 1972 he was transferred to the Chicago Development House as Director. In May 1975 he was appointed Director of the Chestnut Hill Development House in Massachusetts and served on the Executive Board of the Development Department for two years. In September 1977 he was named local Superior of the New York area and Director of the Development House in New York City.
Fr. Harrington’s many years in Development served him well when he was appointed by the General Council on September 1, 1979 to be the Coordinator of the Society Center at Maryknoll, New York. In his assignment letter as Center Coordinator, the Vicar General wrote, “Personally, and in the name of the Society, John, I wish to congratulate you for the outstanding work you have done, not only with Development, but especially in assisting so many men to achieve a balanced, optimistic perspective in our common mission vocation … All of us on the General Council look forward to working with you in your new Office of Center Coordinator and U.S. Coordinator.” Fr. Harrington served in this capacity for six years.
Fr. Harrington’s willingness, spirit of cooperation and faithfulness to the needs of the Society and mission continued when he was once again asked by the General Council to assume another important post. On February 1, 1986 he was appointed Society Archivist at Maryknoll, New York. On January 31, 1989 he was reappointed Archivist or another three-year term. The Superior General wrote in his letter of reappointment, “Your curiosity of all things Maryknoll is one of the good attributes of a Society Archivist … I take this opportunity, John, to express the gratitude of all Maryknollers for your long and faithful service to mission and to Maryknoll.”
During his recent years, Fr. Harrington assisted the Health Services Staff in many ways, large and small. His abilities as a licensed practitioner of Therapeutic Massage eased the pain of many of the Society’s older and infirm Members. His presence in and around the Center provided a genuine spirit of hospitality, engaging conversation, humor and a helping hand to everyone. His list of accomplishments are great, but many will remember John especially as priest, missioner and friend. He spent his last day and hours actively with those he loved and with whom he shared a ministry to Maryknollers.
Wake services were conducted by Fr. Joseph Trainor, MM in Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel on Tuesday evening, December 20, 1994. Fr. Joseph Trainor, MM was principal celebrant and Fr. Robert Carleton, MM was homilist at the concelebrated Mass in the Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll, New York on December 21, 1994. Graveside services were conducted by Fr. William Tokus, MM in the Maryknoll Society Cemetery at the Center.