Father Louis I. Bayless, MM
Born: July 12, 1917
Ordained: June 9, 1946
Died: March 16, 2001
Father Louis Ignatius Bayless died on March 16, 2001 at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. He was 83 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 54 years.
Louis was born July 12, 1917 in San Jose, California to Joseph and Amelia Mathe Bayless. He was the second child in a family of seven, three boys and four girls. He attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School with the Presentation Sisters. Upon graduating in 1932, he entered the Maryknoll High School Seminary in Los Altos. Graduating in 1936, he began college at the Venard. On April 26, 1936 he wrote about his vocation to Maryknoll. He wrote: “When I attended St. Patrick’s School in San Jose, I first heard about Maryknoll. I was in the fourth grade. A graduate from my school entered the Maryknoll Junior Seminary. I became interested in Maryknoll through this student and my brother who corresponded with the seminarian. My brother and I attended a moving picture show of the Orient given by Father Keller. I, then, became acquainted much more with Maryknoll and its work at the San Francisco Procure. Three Maryknoll priests influenced me greatly. Father Cummings visited St. Patrick’s school in my eighth grade and made arrangements for me to come to the Maryknoll Junior Seminary. In 1932 I read the Life of Blessed Theophane Venard. This book increased my desire to do missionary work.” After completing his studies at the Venard, he went on to Novitiate at Bedford, Massachusetts and then took Theology at Maryknoll.
Father Bayless was ordained June 9, 1946. Just before ordination, Bishop James E. Walsh announced that Father Bayless and three other Maryknollers, Fathers William Collins, Albert Good, and Joseph Brannigan were going to a new mission in Tanzania (then called Tanganyika) in East Africa. These four sailed from New York on August 25 and arrived in Musoma on October 23. They were warmly welcomed by the White Fathers. In November 1947, Father Bayless became pastor of Nyegina Parish. In December of 1951, he went to Iramba where several Maryknollers were building a new mission. Father Bayless became first pastor and stayed in Iramba until his home leave in August 1953.
After home leave, Father Bayless went to the Shinyanga, Tanzania area and over the next years served in Buhangija, Shinyanga Town Parish and Malampaka Parish and returned to Buhangija in 1973. He stayed there as Chaplain to the Government Hospital and also as Chaplain to Kolandoto Hospital eight miles away. Father Bayless mentioned with satisfaction his service as Chaplain in a prison near Buhangija, where the warden would allow him entry whenever he wished. He stayed in Africa until April 1997 when he returned to the United States and took up residence at St. Teresa’s. He was assigned to the Retirement Community on August 1, 1997. At the time of his assignment the Superior General wrote: “Once again, Lou, I want to thank you for more than 50 years of dedicated service to Maryknoll and to mission in Africa. I realize this decision to formalize your assignment to the Retirement Community is difficult for you after a long and fruitful missionary career. I am sure you will continue your priestly ministry here in the U.S. in the same style that made you such a successful missioner in Africa.”
Wake services were held at 7:00 p.m. on March 18, 2001 at St. Teresa’s where Father John Hudert officiated and at 7:30 p.m. at Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Leo Kennedy officiated and Father John Lange read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated at Queen of Apostles Chapel on March 19, 2001 at 11:00 a.m. Father John Pruitt, a cousin of Father Bayless, was Principal Celebrant and Father J. Francis Flynn homilist. Burial followed at Maryknoll Center Cemetery with Father Michael Snyder conducting the graveside service.