Father James M. Drought, MM

Born: November 18, 1896
Ordained: September 24, 1921
Died: May 1, 1943

James M. Drought was born November 18, 1896 in New York City. He received his early education at Blessed Sacrament School and Cathedral College in New York. He came to Maryknoll in 1920 from New York’s Dunwoodie Seminary and was ordained by Cardinal Hayes on September 24, 1921.

After a year of studies at Catholic University and two years of teaching at the Venard, he was assigned to Hong Kong. Later he was sent to the mainland to assist Bishop Ford in organizing the new mission of Kaying. It was during this short mission career in China that Father Drought wrote a Hakka grammar which later became a standard text.

In 1926 he was assigned to the Philippine Islands to assist the Archbishop of Manila and to direct two hostels for students attending the public universities. A delegate to the First General Chapter in 1929, Father Drought was elected to the General Council as Third Assistant General. In 1932 he represented the Archbishop of Manila in special negotiations at Rome. The following year he served Bishop James A. Walsh as Extraordinary Visitor to the missions. In 1934 he was elected Vicar General and Treasurer General.

Father Drought diligently cared for Bishop Walsh during the closing years of our Co-Founder’s life, relieving him of much of the burden of the Society’s affairs until the convening of the Extraordinary General Chapter at Hong Kong in 1936. The Chapter re-elected Fr. Drought as Vicar General.

Returning from Hong Kong, the plane in which Father Drought was a passenger was forced to make a crash landing in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Crete. Fr. Drought sustained severe injuries which so imperiled his life that he was unable to resume his duties at Maryknoll until 1938. Doctors warned him that the remainder of his life would be short, a fact evidenced by the progressive weakening of his heart. However, despite the handicap of a broken body, Father Drought, still a young man, continued to devote to the executive offices of the Society the benefit of his remarkable gifts. On the afternoon of May 1, 1943, shortly after being anointed, he passed peacefully away. Funeral and burial took place at Maryknoll on May 4.