Francis X. McGuire, O.S.A.

1909 – 2003 (May 9)

Francis Xavier Nicholas McGuire, son of Francis McGuire and Bridget Foley, was born in the Bronx, New York, on November 21, 1909, and on December 5th he was baptized in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church there. He began his early education at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parochial School, St. Ann Academy, and Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, where he was admitted as a postulant. He began his novitiate at New Hamburg, New York, on September 8, 1927, professed first vows a year later, and received solemn profession on September 9, 1931. In 1932, after graduating from Villanova College with a BA degree, he studied theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on July 21, 1935, and earned his Doctorate of Divinity in 1939. 

Father McGuire’s first assignment was assisting at St. James Parish in Carthage, New York. In September 1939, he began teaching theology at Villanova College, and served as prefect of studies until 1941. During the Provincial Chapter of 1941, Father McGuire was appointed Vice President of Villanova College and three years later, at age 34, became Villanova’s 24th president. While President of Villanova from 1944 to 1954, Father McGuire oversaw the transformation of Villanova College from a small liberal arts college to an expanded institution of higher education, culminating in Villanova’s elevation to University status in 1953. During his tenure, new buildings were erected on campus to accommodate increasing enrollment: namely, Falvey Library, Barry Hall, Dougherty Hall, the Chemical Engineering Building, the Commerce and Finance Building and Mendel Hall. The College of Nursing, Villanova Law School, and part-time studies program were established during his presidency. Between 1945 and 1954, the year he retired from the office, he had received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from LaSalle College, and Saint Joseph University, both of Philadelphia, Pa., and Doctor of Humane Letters from Long Island University in N. Y. From 1954 to 1959, he directed Villanova’s Development Foundation. He was also professor of philosophy and religious studies, and served on the Boards of Trustees at Villanova University and Rosemont College. He was elected Counselor to the Provincial from 1950 to 1956. He served on the Joint State Government Commission of Pennsylvania, and held an executive position of the Association of Naval Reserve Officer Training Colleges and Universities.

After Father McGuire left Villanova he ministered in several Augustinian parishes. Parishioners remember him for his keen mind, charm and quick wit, all interwoven with a deep spirituality. His magnetic personality developed from both his reputation as a spiritual leader and educator and the fact that, when he spoke, people listened. They marveled at his insight, wisdom and humorous anecdotes.

Father McGuire taught at Merrimack College, in North Andover, Massachusetts, before continuing parochial ministry in Andover and Lawrence, Massachusetts, Jamaica, the Bronx, and Staten Island, New York. His last active assignment was prior of Mount Augustine Retreat House, on the site of the former Augustinian Academy, Staten Island. 

In 1996, when his health began to fail, Father McGuire returned to St. Thomas Monastery, at Villanova. He remained in the Health Care Unit at there until January, 2003, when he moved to Sacred Heart Manor in Philadelphia. Father McGuire died at the age of 93 on May 9, 2003. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in St. Thomas of Villanova Campus church. His body was interred at the Augustinian Cemetery on Villanova’s campus, on Thursday, May 15.