Father William S. McDonald, MM

Born: May 25, 1915
Ordained: June 22, 1941
Died: October 25, 1985

Fr. William “Scooty” McDonald died on October 25, 1985 at St. Teresa’s Residence at the age of 70.

Father Bill was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 25, 1915. He attended SS. Peter and Paul parochial school. Reflecting on his life, he wrote: “While in the fifth grade I first heard of Maryknoll when it was mentioned by the sister who taught us. But it did not convey much meaning to me then. Thoughts of the priesthood had been present before this but around April, 1929 I was looking through a Field Afar and read about the Venard. This seemed to be the place I sought. I mentioned it to my confessor and he wrote to Maryknoll. Soon I received letters from Father General and Father O’Shea and entered the Venard to begin high school in September, 1929.”

He was ordained on June 22, 1941 and his first work as a missionary, much to his chagrin, was to Development work in Chicago. He then worked in Bedford and St. Louis before his assignment to Ecuador. He sailed October 8, 1946. His missionary career took him later to Chile and then to Mexico and Guatemala. He had an enriching life and only a few months before he fell ill he asked his superiors for permission to return to work in Central America.

How did others see him? “He is earnest, sincere and serious; popular, full of pep; he is a leader, an organizer; he is pious, generous, self-sacrificing and humble,” wrote one of his superiors.

Father Bill had many bouts with bad health over the years but it did not deter his mission efforts. Back in 1953 he asked the Superior General to allow him to work in Brazil during his septennial furlough but Father General thought it best that he come back to the States for a rest due to health concerns. Bill was interested in the growth of the Legion of Mary and dedicated to this apostolate. While being treated on various occasions he insisted on helping out in different parishes with the Spanish-speaking. He came to know Bishop Eduardo Boza, exiled auxiliary bishop of Havana, Cuba. In his missionary zeal he became involved in trying to work out a plan in 1963 of trying to get priests into Cuba to replace those who had left or were forced out by the Castro regime. As part of the plan he saw the necessity of a group of non-Cuban priests together with Cuban laypeople to work as roving missioners in parts of Cuba where there were no Cuban priests.

“The harvest, indeed, is great, but the laborers are few” from St. Luke’s Gospel, made him uneasy and he labored to try to get others to resolve the problem. He wrote to various bishops in Latin America and the U.S., asking them to think of the future of the Church.

Fr. Bill did not shy away from controversial topics and freely gave his opinions. When he thought he was wrong he readily admitted it and made an effort at reconciliation. He was truly a Maryknoller and a missioner. He wanted to be of service whenever possible. He was especially known for his ministry to the sick and needy. His own health limited his assignments but he did earnestly desire to give of himself. A few years ago he asked for an assignment, realizing that he perhaps could not go back overseas. He stated in that letter: “I wish to reaffirm my love for the Society and the wish to serve Maryknoll faithfully as long as possible.”

Before he died, he requested the following Scripture text to be on his memorial card: “I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have broken my chains.” (Ps. 115:7)