Father John F. Fay, MM

Born: December 27, 1921
Ordained: June 14, 1952
Died: February 7, 2003

Father John F. Fay died early in the morning on February 7, 2003 at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. He was 81 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 60 years.

John Francis was born on December 27, 1921, in Worcester, Massachusetts, son of Alexander Joseph and Stella Marie King Fay. He has one brother and one sister. He attended the Tatnuck grammar school and graduated from Commercial High School in June 1941. Since he attended evening classes during the last two years at Commercial, he worked as an office clerk at the Stoker Corporation for three years before entering Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard), Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania on July 25, 1942. As a seminarian he was an outstanding athlete, both as a catcher in baseball and as a hockey player. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and was ordained at Maryknoll Seminary, New York on June 14, 1952.

After ordination, Father Fay was assigned to the Maryknoll Central America Mission Region and served the Church faithfully there for thirty-one years during decades of political and social turmoil. He studied Spanish in Huehuetenango, Guatemala and was reported to be one of the best in his newly acquired language. He served first as assistant pastor in San Sebastian Parish. Because he was such a solid, prayerful man and very reliable, he served in many assignments, wherever Maryknoll needed him. Everywhere he went he was well liked by the people and his fellow missioners. In May of 1956 he was appointed pastor of San Pedro Parish in Cuilco for a short time, and then transferred as an assistant pastor to the large Jacaltenango Parish. In 1959 he became pastor of San Carlos Sija Parish in Huehuetenango, where he built a parochial school.

After home leave in 1962, he returned to the Region and was appointed assistant pastor of the new Madre del Salvador Parish in Santa Anita, El Salvador, where he served for five years. In addition to parish work, he was hospital chaplain and cursillo director. In November of 1965 he attended the Missioners Conference at Maryknoll, New York. In 1967 he was appointed pastor of Inmaculata Concepcion Parish in Santa Ana, El Salvador. The following year, he returned to Guatemala and was appointed pastor of the Cathedral Parish in Huehuetenango. In 1971 he was transferred to San Pedro Parish, Poptun, Peten, Guatemala, where his gentle and prayerful nature enabled him to serve for many years with great courage in the face of the many difficulties there. These included tortured bodies being found with some frequency, confiscation of the lands of the poor and death threats to most of the pastoral workers, including himself. During these years Father Fay took time out to attend an intensive Pastoral Theology Course in Manizales, Columbia, and also the Maryknoll Spiritual Renewal Program in the Holy Land in 1982, where his deep love for scripture was nourished.

In 1983 he came back to Maryknoll on sick leave and as part of his recuperation Father Fay was assigned to the Development Department. He worked in the Cleveland, Ohio area before being assigned to the Hawaii Region on December 12, 1984. After a short time at Sacred Heart Parish in Honolulu, he was assigned to the United States Region in February 1986 and to St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. Although assigned to the Special
Society Unit in July 1992, he helped out in the local parishes. Father was assigned to the Retirement Community in February 2001.

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on February 9, 2003 at St. Teresa’s, and at 7:30 p.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Richard Callahan officiated and Brother John Blazo read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on February 10, 2003 at 11:00 a.m. Father David LaBuda was Principal Celebrant and Father Thomas Ahearn homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father John McAuley conducting the graveside service.