William M. Cleary, O.S.A.


1935 – 2019 (October 13)

Fr. William M. Cleary, O.S.A. was born on March 23, 1935, in Washington, DC, one of seven sons and three daughters of William F. Cleary and Mary V. Roche. He was baptized on April 4, 1935, at Holy Name Church, Washington, DC, and received his early education at Holy Name School from 1941 to 1947, and Saint Aloysius School from 1947 to 1949. He then attended Gonzaga High School, Washington, after which he was received into the Order at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York on September 9, 1953. He professed simple vows on September 10, 1954, and then attended Villanova University, where he received a BA in Philosophy. He made profession of solemn vows on September 10, 1957. He pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, from 1958 to 1962 and obtained his master’s degree. Bill was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1961, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, by Bishop Philip Hannan.

Father Bill’s first assignments were to parishes of the Province: Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Jamaica, New York, from 1962 to 1964; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Staten Island, New York, in 1964; Holy Rosary, Lawrence, Massachusetts, from 1964 to 1966; and Saint Mary, Lawrence, from 1966 to 1968. He was then assigned to Saint Joseph Friary where he taught at Msgr. Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and in 1972 was transferred briefly to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Atlantic City, New Jersey. From 1972 to 1975, he served in the California Province, and from 1975 to 1984 assisted in parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 1984, he was assigned to Austin Friars Hall, Silver Spring, Maryland, and then to Saint John of Sahagun Friary, where he taught at Archbishop Carroll High School and pursued Canon Law studies at the Catholic University of America. He received the JCL degree in 1989 which he used particularly to offer assistance to married couples. From 1990 to 1993, he was assigned to the Collegio Santa Monica, Rome, Italy where he did further studies in Canon Law.

Father Bill returned to the United States in July 1993 and was assigned to the Austin Friars community in Silver Spring, Maryland until April 1997 when he became a member of the Cassiciacum Community in New Rochelle, New York, while working as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. In June 1999 he returned to the Austin Friars Community in Silver Spring, Maryland. In July 2004 Father Bill was named pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover, Massachusetts, where he remained until November of 2007.

He was then assigned to Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, assisting in the Development Office of the Province until June of 2008 when he retired. For a number of years thereafter, he continued to assist in local parishes, until failing health impeded this service.

Father Bill passed away in his room at the monastery on Sunday morning, October 13, 2019 after a short period of hospice care. During his years in the health care unit he was noted for his cheerful good humor, engaging conversation and generous spirit.