James A. Donnellon, O.S.A.

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1906 – 1971 (April 11)

James Augustine Donnellon, son of James Donnellon and Catherine Mahon, was born on September 10, 1906, in the parish of St. Joseph, Niagara Falls, New York. The Donnellons moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where James received his elementary education in St. Laurence O’Toole Parish School. He graduated in 1920, began high school at St. John’s Preparatory School, Danvers, MA., and then entered Augustinian Academy on Staten Island, New York, graduating in 1924. On August 15, 1925, he was received into the novitiate, professed first vows on August 16, 1926, and made solemn profession on August 16, 1929. In June 1929, after earning his A.B. from Villanova College, he pursued his theological studies at Augustinian College and The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. On June 14, 1932, James was ordained to the priesthood by William J. Hafey, Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.In 1933.

Father Donnellon began teaching as professor of Biology at Villanova College, while doing graduate work in biology at The Catholic University of America. In the summer of 1934, he continued his graduate studies at Harvard University’s Medical School, and in June 1936, he earned a Master of Science degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where, in 1938, he received his Doctorate in Biology. From 1940 to 1942, he served as Professor of the Biology Graduate School at Fordham University, New York. In 1944, Father Donnellon was named sub-prior of St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery and head of Villanova’s Department of Biology. Six years later, he was appointed prior of the monastery and chairman of the school’s board of Athletic Control. In January, 1954, he was appointed President of Villanova College, succeeding Francis X.N. McGuire, O.S.A. In 1959, he was elected Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. Following two terms as Provincial he was appointed once again prior of St. Thomas Monastery. Father Donnellon was awarded honorary degrees by LaSalle College, Philadelphia, Pa., Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts., and St. Joseph College, Philadelphia. He was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, The International Biometero-logical Study Commission, and served on the advisory panel of the Joint State Government Commission. He was also chairman of the Board of Trusties at Merrimack College, and Biscayne College, Miami, Florida.

Father Donnellon died on April 11, at the age of 64. A Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s Collegiate Seminary Chapel, Villanova, Pa. Interment followed in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.