James E. Hannan, O.S.A.

1916 – 2013 (July 27)

James E. Hannan was born in Jamestown, Rhode Island, on July 4, 1916, one of two sons of Julia and James Hannan, Sr. In 1926 his family moved to San Francisco, California, where he attended St. Ignatius High School and, for two years, attended the University of San Francisco. A lay teacher there introduced him to the Augustinians in Ojai, California, and he entered the novitiate in New Hamburg, New York in 1938. He professed vows in 1939 and graduated from Villanova College in 1941. After his third year of theological studies in Washington, D.C., he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Mitty in the cathedral of San Francisco. One year later, Catholic University of America awarded him a Masters Degree in Education. In 1947, he became one of the founding faculty members of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. Years later, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Merrimack.

In 1949, Father Hannan was commissioned as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve. He was called to active duty during the Korean War. In all, he had thirteen different assignments in his military career, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel on the bicentennial of the country he so proudly served, July 4, 1976. During his military career, Father Hannan was also the rector of the Augustinian House of Formation at Villanova from 1956 to 1959. From 1962 he was a member of Saint Augustine Monastery in San Diego. He had a number of assignments at St. Augustine’s, most notably as a teacher and as the school’s business manager from 1966 until 1977. From 1978 until 1985 he was the Chaplain at San Diego County Jail. Father Hannan also assisted at a variety of parishes, including one year at Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Los Angeles. For thirty-four years he assisted at Saint John the Evangelist Church in San Diego.

Up until a few days before his death, Fr. Hannan was alert and intellectually acute. He read at least three newspapers a day and had a voracious appetite for the New York Times. He read all brochures and magazines that concerned themselves with the U.S Air Force, and still corresponded with the alumni from the very first graduating class at Merrimack College. Despite all his loyalties and regimen, all of these came second to his love of Mass and his faithfulness to the Divine Office. He was a good and holy Augustinian and priest. He was 97 years old when he died on July 27, 2013.

Father Hannan’s funeral mass was celebrated at Saint John the Evangelist Church, in San Diego, on Wednesday, July 31. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.