Edward J. McCarthy, O.S.A.

1912 – 1996 (April 8)

Edward James McCarthy, son of Edward McCarthy and Katherine Grimley, was born on April 1, 1912, in Troy, New York. He was baptized there on April 14, 1912, in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. Following his early education in public schools, Edward entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, N.Y., as a postulant on September 1, 1925 and graduated in June, 1929. He was received into the novitiate on September 10, 1929, professed first vows on September 11, 1930, and solemn vows on September 11, 1933. In 1934, he earned his B.A. degree from Villanova College. He studied theology at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., and was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1937, by John M. McNamara, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Md., in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

After ordination Father Edward McCarthy remained at Augustinian College as Sub-Master while completing a M.A. degree in history, which he earned in 1938, from Catholic University, Washington. In 1943, he received a Ph.D. in history from Catholic University. In 1940, Father McCarthy was assigned to Villanova College as a Professor of History. In 1946, he was appointed Dean and Professor of History at Universidad de S. Tomas de Villanueva, Havana, Cuba. In 1948, he returned to Villanova as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and later served as Dean of the Graduate School. In 1953, he returned to Villanueva in Havana, where he served as Regent of Studies until 1961, when foreign clergy were expelled from Cuba. From 1961 to 1968, he served as founding president of Biscayne College in Miami, Fla. Then, in 1968, he became Prior, Chairman of the History Department and Academic Vice President at Merrimack College in North Andover, Ma.

During his tenure as President of Villanova University from 1971 to 1975, he lived according to his stated principle, “My education goal is to make Villanova a good university both as an educational institution and as a Catholic institution. I see absolutely no conflict between the two.” During student protests Father McCarthy made hard decisions. He offered students a forum for raising issues and then gave reasons for his policies. In doing so, he gained the students’ respect. On one occasion he quipped, “I don’t care what they say about me in the student newspaper as long as they use good English.” Although, during most of his religious life Father McCarthy served the apostolate of higher education, he did minister also in several parishes of the Province: St. Augustine, Troy, N.Y.; Resurrection, Dania, Florida; St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Bronx, N.Y.; and St. Augustine, Casselberry, Florida.

While at Villanova he filled such posts as President, faculty member, Dean of Arts and Sciences, dormitory counselor, varsity baseball coach, and in 1981, he was appointed chairman of the Board of Trustees. Also, at that time he was elected assistant provincial and became a member of the Augustinian International Commission of Education in Rome. In 1993, in his 82nd year, at the request of Archbishop Edward Anthony McCarthy, of Miami, Father Ed McCarthy assumed the position of interim President of St. Thomas University in Miami, FL. One of his confreres stated, “Ed was frequently called upon to evaluate conditions on college campuses. In the midst of teaching and administration he found time to do research in his field of history and through publications of articles, he received esteem and fame in historical circles. A person with an engaging personality and a gift to speak on many subjects, Father Ed often acknowledged that it was his parents and sisters who taught him how to deal with and respect all people. 

Father McCarthy died on April 8, 1996, at St. Thomas Monastery, Villanova, Pa. at the age of 84. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, and interment took place at the Augustinian Cemetery on the campus of Villanova University, Villanova. Pa.