Father Richard J. Quinn, MM

Born: September 27, 1926
Ordained: June 12, 1954
Died: January 27, 2020

Father Richard J. Quinn died on January 27, 2020 at the Maryknoll Society Center in Maryknoll, NY.  He was 93 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 65 years.

Richard J. Quinn was born in Passaic, NJ, on September 27, 1926, the son of William John and Mary Holland Quinn.  He had four brothers and one sister.  He attended St. Paul’s Grammar School and graduated from Pope Pius XII High School in Passaic in June 1945.  He entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (the Venard), Clarks Summit, PA on July 2, 1945.  He then attended the Maryknoll Seminary, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in June 1949, his Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in June 1953, and his Master of Religious Education degree in June 1954.  He was ordained a priest in Annunciation Chapel at the Maryknoll Sisters’ Motherhouse, Ossining, NY on June 12, 1954.

Following his ordination, Fr. Quinn was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Musoma, Tanzania.  After learning the Kinyiramba language, he was assigned to the Iramba Parish, among the Bongoreme people, where he served as Assistant Pastor for one year before being appointed Pastor.  As well as serving as Pastor, he was a good builder, organizer and administrator.  Upon completing his Kiswahili language course in Moshi, Tanzania, he was assigned to Tarime Parish, among the Wakuria people, for nine months.  In 1962, Fr. Quinn was made Pastor of the Komuge Parish, where he remained until 1971.  He was proficient in the Kisimbiti language.  He assisted in forming the Mara Jazz Band, which was #1 on the music charts in East Africa from 1969 through 1971.

After one semester of core theology at Maryknoll, Fr. Quinn was assigned to build a new parish called Kebirigo in Kisii, Kenya.  He immediately saw the diocesan need for a Lay Leadership Community Training Center which would offer both pastoral and socio-economic courses.  It was the first Diocesan Pastoral Center in Kenya, and Fr. Quinn named it the Viongozi Senta (Leadership Center).  More than forty short courses per year were offered to both religious and lay leaders.  Three months of each year were dedicated to youth courses.  Fr. Quinn said of this period, “I now knew how to evangelize as well as catechetize and sacramentalize.  For seven years in the Kisii Highlands I proved that our lay people, if honestly formed, can do wonders.  In fact without them today, the Church is limping.”

It was while running this busy center that Fr. Quinn saw the need for developing audio-visual pastoral tools.  This eventually led him into the video ministry.  During a Sabbatical year in 1979-1980, Fr. Quinn participated in two mission renewal programs; one at Maryknoll Seminary and the second at the Vatican II Institute in Menlo Park, CA.  His final studies were in video production at the University of Missouri for eight weeks.  He took a second production course in 1982 at Fordham University.

For twenty-six years, Fr. Quinn was the Director of Ukweli Video Productions under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.  More than 290 video documentaries, plays, and docu-dramas were produced, with 60 having a strong pastoral message.  Every corner of Africa heard about Ukweli Video Productions, and many have been shown on television stations worldwide.

In April 2009, Fr. Quinn was given retirement status and remained in Kenya, still involved with Lay Evangelizing Teams until May 2015.  At that time, he was assigned to the Senior Missioner Community, with residence at Maryknoll, NY.  In June 2019, Fr. Quinn celebrated his 65th Jubilee as a Maryknoll priest among many family members and friends.

A Rosary and wake service was held on February 2, 2020 in the Holy Spirit Chapel at the Maryknoll Society Center.  The biography was read by Fr. Michael G. Callanan.  Fr. Quinn’s remains were transferred to the Lady Chapel on February 3, 2020, where his family received condolences and prayers.  Mass of Christian Burial followed and was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel.  Fr. Edward J. Phillips was Principal Celebrant and Fr. Lance P. Nadeau was homilist.