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Remembering Jesuit Father William J. McGarry

Jan. 2, 2019 - Fr. William John McGill McGarry, SJ was born on Feb. 15, 1928, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He had his basic education at St. Anthony of Padua, Brooklyn, and Xavier High School, New York City. 

Fr. McGarry entered St. Andrew-on-Hudson Novitiate, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1945, where he also did his juniorate (1947-49). Afterwards, philosophy was at St. Louis University in Missouri, leading to an AB in classics and licentiate in philosophy (1949-52). He taught Latin, religion, American history, German, English, and geography during regency at Loyola School in New York (1952-55). Theology was at Woodstock College, Maryland (1955-59), where he got an S.T.L. On June 20, 1958, he was ordained a deacon in Fordham University Chapel, Bronx, by the Most Rev. Joseph Pernicone, Auxiliary Bishop of New York. The following day, he and his peers were ordained to the presbyterate by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. Philippine Province Jesuits ordained with him included Frs. Eladio Borja, Miguel Casals, Francis Glover, Asterio Katigbak, John Phelan, Joseph Roche and William Schmitt. He then proceeded to tertianship at Our Lady of Martyrs, Auriesville, N.Y. (1959-1960), and later pronounced final vows on Feb. 2, 1963, in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

After tertianship, Fr. McGarry was assigned to Pohnpei. After studying the language and culture for two years, he became pastor of Kitti (1962-67), assistant pastor of Kolonia (1967-69), and then, pastor and local superior of Pohnpei (1969-73). With 13 years of experience in Micronesia, he was appointed regional superior while serving as pastor of Awak (1973-80). His next assignment was in the Philippine capital of Manila, where he was president of the Jesuit Conference of East Asia (1980-86) and likewise its treasurer (1982-86). He returned to Micronesia to become episcopal vicar of the vicariate of Pohnpei-Kosrae (1986-90) of the Diocese of Carolines-Marshalls under Most Rev. Martin Neylon, SJ. Fr. McGarry also was coordinator of inter-parish activities (1986-88). 

Sent back to Manila again, he became the founding rector (1990-96) of Arrupe International Residence on the Ateneo de Manila Campus. He had two Jesuit co-formators, Frs. James Meehan and Peter Kim [MAS], and 20 formands—coming from diverse regions including: Malaysia-Singapore, Micronesia, Thailand, Philippines, Germany, and Indonesia. Fr. McGarry was also AIR’s treasurer (1991-92) and minister (1991-93). After AIR, he returned to Micronesia, becoming again episcopal vicar for Pohnpei-Kosrae (1996-2001). 

Once more, he came back to the Philippines, this time for good. Fr. McGarry served as assistant tertian director to Fr. Roger Champoux, SJ, for the Assistancy’s program based in Loyola House of Studies (2001-10). After that he stayed on at LHS, ministering to both Jesuits and lay. Since 2012, failing health brought him to the Lucas Infirmary, then to the new Jesuit Health and Wellness Center (2016 until death). He still managed pastoral ministry, especially spiritual direction and conversation, until pulmonary ailments made this difficult. 

About four in the afternoon of Dec. 29, Fr. McGarry was rushed to The Medical City, Pasig City with breathing difficulties. He expired two hours later from respiratory failure, secondary to pneumonia. His funeral Mass was celebrated at 8 a.m. on Jan. 2, 2019. Interment followed at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches after the Mass.






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