Father John J. Considine, MM
Born: October 9, 1897
Ordained: May 26, 1923
Died: May 4, 1982
Our beloved Father John J. Considine died at St. Teresa’s on May 4, 1982. He was lovingly assisted by the staff there to the very end. Father Thomas Wilcox had been with him just five minutes before he peacefully died. For the last few years Father Considine had gallantly fought failing health. Even in these years of great suffering, he never lost his gentle and gracious manner.
In Maryknoll’s history it is hard to think of a Maryknoller more respected and looked to for missionary vision than Father John. From his earliest years in the Society he showed outstanding leadership in bringing mission – and new approaches to mission – to greater prominence within the Society and to the Church at large. In the first General Chapter which was held in 1929, Father James Anthony Walsh, Founder of Maryknoll, paid a unique tribute to Father Considine when he said: “We owe to Father Considine more than we will admit or than most of us realize….(his) tradition of good will, intelligent activities…gentle tact.”
Father John Considine was born the oldest of seven children to Alice Murphy and John W. Considine, on October 9, 1897 in New Bedford, Mass. He attended grammar school and Holy Family High School there. During his school days he spent much of his free time working in the family drug store. Early in his high school years he was attracted to a career in journalism. But, in his third year of high school, after reading the Boston Pilot and the Field Afar, a vocation to the missionary priesthood became more important to him. He entered the Venard in 1915 and came to the Knoll in 1917 to finish his studies. He was ordained May 26, 1923 and a year later received his LST from C.U. in Washington, D.C.
It was soon after his ordination that he was responsible for Maryknoll’s participation in a Vatican Mission Exhibit held in Rome. It was through his experience that many in and out of the Society began to appreciate what a creative and resourceful mission animator John Considine was and would become. He was later assigned to Rome as Procurator General. It was during that time that the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith sensed there was a great lack of news in Europe and America concerning the works in the missions. Propaganda decided that a News Service was needed to respond to this need. Fr. Considine was asked to found and direct the Fides News Service, which he did from 1927 to 1934. The Fides News Service developed and published editions in five languages. These years gave Father John many opportunities to have very extensive contact with the best missiologists of the day. He was always filled with enthusiasm to share his vision, but was also receptive to learn from the missioners and missiologists with whom he associated.
In 1934 Father Considine was named to the General Council and Director of Promotion which today would be the equivalent of our Development and Social Communications Departments. In 1936 he was elected to the General Council and later during the term of Bishop James E. Walsh as Superior General he became Vicar General at the death of Father James Drought. After the 1946 General Chapter he served for many years as Editor of the Maryknoll Publications.
As we look back on Father’s career, we can see that his desire to be a journalist was very much a part of God’s plan for him. His whole career was filled with writing – always on the theme of mission and the new, creative ways that the Church might respond to mission. Besides the innumerable articles Father wrote he also authored 13 books, among them: Across a World, World Call for Forty Thousand, and The Missionary’s Role in Socio-Economic Betterment.
In 1960 Maryknoll was asked by the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C. to set up and direct the Latin American Bureau. This was successfully accomplished under the direction of Father John. It was also at that time that he was asked by the Holy See to be consultant to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
In 1968 John was asked by the Society to join the Mission Department – a new development that gave him particular joy. At the same time he was asked by the Faculty at Glen Ellyn to share part of his time with them to set up an Institute for Mission Studies at the College. This was not a new endeavor for John in Maryknoll, since over the years he had often given courses on Missiology to the Maryknoll students.
During the 1960’s, when so many things were happening and changing in the Church and the mission world, Father Considine grew more and more hopeful about mission and its contribution to the future. In 1968 he wrote to one of his fellow Maryknollers: “…most surely something very beautiful lies ahead for all the Church, including Maryknoll – a day of healthy, vigorous choices by men with new strength through freedom who will work selflessly and uncalculatingly for others. I feel sure that this is a wonderful time in which to live.”
In 1976,during his 78th year, Father Considine asked to be relieved of his duties in the Mission Department. His last words in that short letter were: “I have loved the work.” There are so many things that obviously we could say about this Maryknoller who has given all of us such an example, but he himself summed it up best in those words…”I have loved the work.”
The wake for Father Considine took place on Thursday evening May 6th and was conducted by Father Robert Sheridan. Msgr. Arthur G. Considine, Father John’s brother, was Principal Celebrant at the funeral Mass on May 7 and the Homily was given by Father Francis Winslow. Father James Noonan conducted services at the graveside in the Maryknoll Cemetery.