Father Charles L. Callahan, MM

Born: April 23, 1921
Ordained: June 11, 1955
Died: June 10, 1994

Father Charles L. Callahan died Friday night at 9:30 p.m., June 10, 1994, in Nairobi Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya. He was 73 years of age and a Maryknoll priest for 39 years.

Charles Lewis Callahan was born on April 23, 1921, in New Haven, Connecticut, son, of Charles Lewis and Anne Killilea Callahan. He had two brothers, diocesan priests in the Hartford Archdiocese and four sisters. Charles graduated from East Haven High School in June 1938. On January 15, 1942 Charles enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific as an airplane Armorer. He was honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on October 17, 1945. Accepted as a seminarian for the Hartford Archdiocese, Charles entered St. Thomas Preparatory Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut, in September 1946. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in June 1950 at St. Bernard’s Seminary, Rochester, New York. Charles entered Maryknoll Novitiate, Bedford, Massachusetts, on September 1, 1950, and five years later was ordained a Maryknoll priest on June 11, 1955 in Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel, Maryknoll, New York.

Following ordination, Father Callahan, along with 13 of his classmates, was assigned to Tanganyika, East Africa. He was sent to Shinyanga. In those early days there was no language school and Father Callahan was assigned to study the language and culture of the Sukuma people at the parish of Kilulu. He would mingle with the people and especially with the children well before he could really speak the language. Having the quality of being at ease with people, along with the humility of not being afraid to make language mistakes, he became very proficient in the Kisukuma language. He became completely at home with the people in whatever assignments he was given during his many years in the Shinyanga Diocese.

In 1957, he was appointed Assistant Pastor of the Ng’wanangi parish. Then in 1959, he was transferred as Pastor of the Kilulu parish. His Regional Superior wrote: “Father Callahan is a good missioner and a hard worker; affable, kind, and understanding with the people.”

After a home leave in 1961, Father Callahan founded a new parish called Old Maswa, where he continued as a “good priest and missioner, very affable and well liked by everyone,” as his Superior wrote of him.

In 1965 he was appointed Pastor of the Mipa parish until 1968 when he was transferred to the Wira parish. He then returned to Mipa in 1972. He was appointed 3rd Consultor to the Regional Superior in 1972. In 1974 he attended the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila, Philippines. In 1977 he was appointed Pastor of Holy Cross parish in Mwadui, Tanzania. In October 1985 he became ill and recovered well enough to remain in his parish in Mwadui until his death.

Father Callahan had a unique charism of love and compassion for the sick and dying. He would visit each patient in the Mwadui Mine Hospital at least twice a day. He knew almost every person in his parish: Christian, Muslim, or traditional religionist. He consoled the parents, relatives and friends of the sick and dying regardless of their religion. Because of his Christ-like ministry to the sick he was simply and affectionately loved and known by all as “Padre Charles.”

Father Callahan had another talent that he used so well in his ministry to the sick. He felt deeply for the sick and suffering and he used his sense of humor to mask his own pain and genuine concern. This joyful sense of humor always made him a happy companion whether it was with his fellow Maryknollers or the Tanzanian people. At the same time, he projected a sincere attitude in acknowledging priorities in his life and work.

Wake service and Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial held in Holy Cross Church, Mwadui. Interment in the diocesan cemetery, next to the Cathedral in Shinyanga. Memorial Mass will be offered in Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel, Maryknoll, New York, on Friday, June 17, 1994 at 11:15 A.M.