Fr. Richard A. Aylward, MM

Born: December 21, 1926
Ordained: June 13, 1953
Died: February 1, 2024

Father Richard A. Aylward died on February 1, 2024 in the Assisted Living Unit at Maryknoll, New York. He was 97 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 70 years

Richard Ambrose Aylward was born on December 21, 1926 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the fifth child of twelve, and second son of James Joseph and Mary Ellen O’Neill Aylward. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Parochial School, graduating in 1940, and Boston English High School, graduating in 1944.

On July 5, 1944 he entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard), Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. At Maryknoll Major Seminary in Ossining, New York, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1948 and a Master of Religious Education degree in June 1953. Father Aylward was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary in New York on June 13, 1953.

Shortly before ordination in 1953, he was assigned to Maryknoll’s Mission in Japan, where he arrived in September of that year and immediately began a study of the Japanese language in Tokyo. In 1954 Father Aylward was assigned as Assistant Pastor of the Parish of Tsu, in the Diocese of Kyoto, followed by an assignment for three years as Assistant Pastor in Hikone, also in the Diocese of Kyoto. His first assignment as Pastor was in 1960 in the town of Sonobe, Kyoto Prefecture, and in 1967 he was assigned as Pastor of Nagaoka, also in the Diocese of Kyoto. Returning home on the occasion of the death of his father, in 1968 he was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission in Los Angeles as Assistant pastor, where he also studied for a degree in English Literature at Loyola University.

From autumn of 1970 to 1971, Father Aylward taught English at Winchester High School, Winchester, Massachusetts and, on returning to Japan, he taught at Shiga National University in Hikone until 1975. From 1975 to 1976 he worked as an Assistant Pastor in the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, which was followed by a pastorate of four churches in rural Virginia from 1976 to 1978.

After a theological updating course with the Divine Word Fathers in the town of Nemi, outside Rome, Father Aylward returned to Japan in 1978 and was assigned as Pastor of the Parish of Kuwana, in the Diocese of Kyoto, where he worked for some twenty years. In the first year of his tenure as pastor, he also taught at Nanzan University in Nagoya, established by the Divine Word Fathers. Subsequently he taught English and American Literature and a course in Western Civilization at Nagoya Women’s University until 2000 when, retiring both from pastoral and educational work, he took a sabbatical and was assigned to the Retirement Community (now Senior Missioner Community) in November 2001.

In retirement Father Aylward was an Assistant Chaplain at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts from 2004 to 2008. He lived in Norwood, Massachusetts until September 2013, when he took up residence at the Society Center, Maryknoll, New York.

Father Aylward is survived by his brothers, James J. Aylward, Jr. and Francis X. Aylward; his sister, Helen F. Mulligan; his niece, Suzanne Dodakian; his nephews, Michael R. Aylward and Jimmy Aylward; as well as many other nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Father Aylward is predeceased by siblings Kevin Aylward, Ethnea Sanders, Mary Stewart, Paul Aylward, Robert Aylward, Thomas Aylward, William Aylward, and Clare DeAngelis.

Wake services were held on February 9, 2024 at the Holy Spirit Chapel and the Queen of Apostles Chapel at the Maryknoll Society Center. Mass of Christian Burial followed at 11:00 a.m. and was concelebrated in the Queen of Apostles Chapel. Father Lance Nadeau was the Celebrant and homilist. Father James R. Jackson read the biography and Father Robert Nehrig read the Oath. Burial followed in the Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father John McAuley presiding at the graveside prayers.