Charles J. McFadden, O.S.A.

1909 – 1990 (June 27)

Charles Joseph McFadden was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1909, one of three sons and one daughter of Charles McFadden and Hannah Callahan. He was baptized at Saint Gregory Church, Philadelphia. The family moved to Bryn Mawr, PA, where he attended Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish School. In 1923, at the age of fourteen, he began his secondary education at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, from which he graduated as a postulant in 1927. The following year he entered Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, N.Y., and professed simple vows on September 9, 1928. He began his college education at Villanova College, PA., and professed solemn vows on September 19, 1931. The following year he graduated from Villanova with an A.B. in philosophy and went on to begin his theological studies at Augustinian College in Washington, DC. He was ordained to the priesthood there by Bishop McNamara on June 11, 1935 in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. While pursuing his collegiate and theology studies from 1929-1934, he took summer courses at Villanova and Catholic University in philosophy, psychology, English, and education.The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, then professor at Catholic University, directed Father McFadden’s graduate studies. In 1936 he received his master’s degree from Catholic University. Concerning his dissertation “The Powers of Morality and Religion in Henri Bergson,” Professor Sheen wrote on the inside cover, “The best master’s dissertation I have ever read.” In 1938 Father McFadden was awarded his doctoral degree from Catholic University. His dissertation “The Metaphysical Foundations of Dialectical Communism” became the basis of his later books on communism. In 1948 he was awarded an S.T.L. from the Augustinian College of Rome, Italy.

Father McFadden was assigned to Villanova University in 1938, although he had been teaching philosophy during the summer sessions from 1935 to 1937. For the next forty years until 1979 when he retired, he taught philosophy as well as other specialized courses at Villanova. From 1940 to 1956 he also taught at nearby Rosemont College. In 1940, he began giving courses on medical ethics to student nurses at Fitzgerald-Mercy Hospital, Darby, PA. From these courses evolved his highly successful text Medical Ethics for Nurses, published in 1946. Despite his teaching schedule, he contributed many articles published in various periodicals. In 1939 he wrote Philosophy of Communism with a preface by Fulton J. Sheen stating that it was “without doubt the best book in any language” on the subject. In 1949, probably his most successful work, Medical Ethics, was published and later translated into Spanish. In 1976, he published Dignity of Life: Moral Values in a Changing Society, which was later translated into Chinese. In 1978 Challenge to Morality was published. In 1982 he published Christianity Confronts Communism, a basic text for the average reader.

Father McFadden traveled extensively in Europe and in the Far East, spending lengthy periods in Russia and other Eastern European countries behind the “Iron Curtain”. He remained always a member of Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, where his wit and observations were widely appreciated. Father McFadden died on June 27, 1990.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on March 30 at Saint Denis Church, Havertown, PA. by Prior Provincial, John Hagen, O.S.A. Father Francis X. McGuire, O.S.A., a classmate, preached the homily. Father McFadden is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.