Father Joseph P. Meaney, MM

Born: March 9, 1903
Ordained: September 8, 1926
Died: May 25, 1998

Father Joseph P. Meaney died in the morning of May 25, 1998 at St. Teresa’s Residence. He was 95 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 71 years.

Joseph Patrick Meaney was born on March 9, 1903 in Arlington, Massachusetts, son of Michael John and Ellen Harty Meaney. There were two brothers and five sisters, four of whom died in infancy. His early education took place in the Arlington Public Schools. He entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard), Clarks Summit Pennsylvania, on September 6, 1920. A year later on September 29, 1921, he entered Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, New York. On September 9, 1926, he was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary a year ahead of his class and then went to Rome, Italy. He studied for two years at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and received a Licentiate and Doctorate degrees in Dogmatic Theology. All through his courses he gained exceptionally high grades.

Father Meaney was assigned to the Venard in September 1928 as Assistant Rector. On April 17, 1930, he was transferred to Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining to teach the Philosophy courses. He also taught Psychology courses at the Maryknoll Sisters Teachers College, and served as Spiritual Director of the Maryknoll Brothers for three years. He taught Dogmatic Theology and Liturgy at Maryknoll Seminary from 1934 to 1939. On May 5, 1939 Father Meaney was appointed Director and Local Superior of Maryknoll Novitiate in Bedford, Massachusetts. On April 21, 1941, he was appointed Rector of Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining. He was always a demanding teacher and rector and set strict rules for himself and others.

On May 8,1944, Father Meaney was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission in Puno, Peru. Within a year he developed a remarkable command of the Spanish language and preached regularly without any hesitation. He also gained a some fluency in the Quechua language and conducted services in it. He was appointed Pastor of the Ayapata Parish in October 1944. He served there for four years. His superior wrote: “he is a strong, independent personality that enables him to stand rather alone and does not seem to have a need for the support and encouragement which characterizes other men.” Another Superior wrote: “He is deeply loyal to the Church and Maryknoll and never spared himself in carrying out his duties.” As a result he became a controversial person among his confreres and a demanding Pastor among his parishioners.

On February 19, 1948, Father Meaney was recalled to Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining to serve as Spiritual Director for one year and then transferred to Maryknoll Junior College in Lakewood, New Jersey. On April 15, 1949, he was appointed Rector and Local Superior of the Lakewood college where he served until 1954 when the college was closed. He also taught the French and Liturgy courses. In September 1954, Father Meaney was appointed Spiritual Director and Professor of Ethics at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and served in that capacity for six years.

Authorities in Rome asked Maryknoll Superior General to provide an experienced priest to serve as Spiritual Director at Propaganda College in Rome, Italy. On August 1, 1960, Father Meaney was appointed Spiritual Director and served there in that position for nearly eleven years. Those were turbulent years through the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent changes that followed the Council. Father Meaney gained a good reputation in Roman circles and became well respected for his services to Propaganda College. “He was a credit to Maryknoll,” said his Superior.

On August 19, 1971, Father Meaney was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Mexico. After a brief refresher course in Spanish language and culture, he was appointed Pastor of the Peto Parish and served there for four years. Then he was appointed Pastor of Yobain Parish, and also Maryknoll Coordinator for On-going Education. He was very happy in his mission work and in his spiritual life. As he approached his 90th birthday with his health declining, Father Meaney returned to Maryknoll, New York, for medical attention. On May 1, 1993 he was enrolled in the Special Society Unit with residence at St. Teresa’s Residence where he remained until his death.

Wake services were held at 7:00 p.m. on May 28, 1998 at St. Teresa’s Residence Chapel and at 7:30 p.m. at Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Richard Callahan officiated and Father Lawrence Lewis read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated at Queen of Apostles Chapel on May 29, 1998 at 11:00 a.m. Father Thomas Keefe was Principal Celebrant and Father Edward Walck, homilist. Burial followed at Maryknoll Center Cemetery with Father Michael Snyder conducting the graveside service.