Father J. Paul Bordenet, MM

Born: August 28, 1910
Ordained: June 6, 1936
Died: August 16, 1963

J. Paul Bordenet was born in Linton, Indiana on August 28, 1910. He went to St. Meinrad Prep and Major Seminary and during his third year of Theology applied for admission to Maryknoll. On September 1, 1934 he began classes and was ordained on June 6, 1936. He had the distinction of being the only one ordained that year because the introduction of the novitiate year delayed the ordination of the remainder of his class.

Before going to Korea in 1940 Father Bordenet taught at Los Altos and the Venard. He had just about begun his mission career when World War II broke out and all our missioners in Korea were interned. He was repatriated on the Gripsholm in 1942.

He was not long in the States before he requested and received permission to enter the Chaplain Service. He joined the Marines and saw active and dangerous service with them as they fought to regain the islands occupied by the enemy. On being mustered out he was named Rector at Mountain View where he helped the many GI’s who had just entered special courses, get adjusted to seminary life.

In 1951 he was assigned to Africa. Here his many talents received full play. He was an expert photographer. He drew the plans for a seminary, raised chickens to improve the stock of the native breed, and crossed Dalmatians with the native dogs to develop better canines. His forceful and attractive personality enabled him to gain the good will of many, and he often succeeded where others failed. His fluent command of the language was a great asset.

In 1957 he was appointed Regional Superior and at the end of his term he became Catholic Relief Services Director in Nairobi.

Father Paul had not been feeling well for several months. He was advised by Dr. Gellert to take a few weeks vacation at the coast. Father returned to his work with CRS, with little improvement. On the doctor’s recommendation that Father should return to the U.S. for treatment, Fr. Joseph Glynn, the Regional Superior, wrote to Maryknoll and received the reply on the evening of Father Paul’s death. On August 14th, Father Bordenet went to Zanzibar to initiate a food program. On the night of the 16th he died in his sleep. The funeral Mass was offered in Nairobi and burial took place in Musoma. One of his associates wrote: “We have come of age…we’ve left one of our own here forever. Africa is no longer an infant. In a very real sense one of us has given his life for Africa.”