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Loyola celebrates the life of Rev. Francis McManamin, S.J.

| By Rita Buettner
Fr. McManamin

A Jesuit priest who taught history for more than 30 years at Loyola and traveled with the Greyhounds teams as athletics chaplain, Rev. Francis G. McManamin, S.J., died Feb. 24. He was 93.

Fr. McManamin, who was an associate professor emeritus of history, taught at Loyola from 1963-70 and from 1981-2008, taking one year during his second tenure to teach history at Lujiang University in Fugian, China.

“He was an extraordinary colleague in that he was, as many Jesuits are, very self-effacing about their actual lives,” said Katherine Stern Brennan, Ph.D., associate professor of history. “He was always present and had humor, graciousness, wit, and a lot of concern for the students.”

Brennan was walking across campus with Fr. McManamin when they returned to campus for one fall semester when she noticed he seemed to be in pain. She asked him how he had spent his summer.

“He said, ‘Hard summer. I was conducting retreats for nuns and others on the Cambodian border,’” Brennan recalled. “I was floored. I was deeply moved by this colleague who was involved in Southeast Asia. I’ve always said since then, ‘Ask Jesuits what they do.’”

A foundational member of the history department, Fr. McManamin was a supportive, collaborative member of the department who was concerned for the well-being of the students.

Born in Danville, Pa., on Sept. 15, 1924, Fr. McManamin graduated from St. Edward’s High School in Shamokin, Pa., and Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. In 1951 he entered the Society of Jesus. After receiving his master’s in American History and a Ph.D. in American and Church History from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he was ordained a priest on June 18, 1961.

“He was a very special person,” said Rev. Frank Haig, S.J., who recalled that Fr. McManamin entered the Society of Jesus a little later in life, after graduating from college and serving in the Navy. “He was always trying to get us to understand the difference between a ship and a boat. We ordinary people think they’re the same thing. He would say, ‘A ship carries a boat, like a lifeboat.’”

Fr. McManamin served on an LCM (landing craft mechanized) during World War II, remembered Rev. James Salmon, S.J., who entered the Jesuits with Fr. McManamin and had served in the Navy at the same time (though not together).

“We would kid each other because I was in school most of the time, but he was out there in the amphibious fleet,” said Fr. Salmon, an affiliate associate professor of chemistry and theology at Loyola. “We used to call him ‘Pop’ because he was bald. He put up with it because he had a good personality. He was very popular.”

Fr. McManamin was an outstanding basketball player in high school, playing so well he was named to the Pennsylvania Athletics Hall of Fame. At Mt. St. Mary’s, he was a catcher on the baseball team.

When he returned to Loyola in 1981, he started traveling with the Greyhounds student-athletes as the athletic chaplain, speaking with them before games and offering annual retreats. Professor emeritus of history Jack Breihan, Ph.D., recalled how conflicted Fr. McManamin was when the Greyhounds played his beloved Mt. St. Mary's Mountaineers.

“Father Mac was an old school chaplain. He would be the first to pat you on the back for a job well done and the first to give you heck for not being at your best,” said Dave Gerrity, associate director of athletics.

“He was a constant on the sideline for all of the Greyhound teams. He was a person who would help out students with their classwork, and he also said Mass while we were on the road and had student-athletes do the readings. The whole men’s soccer team would be in the coaches’ room and we would have a quick Mass. He always led us in prayer before we took the field,” Gerrity said.

“He was by far one of the biggest Loyola Greyhound fans. Everyone has a Father Mac story, and I hope we continue to tell them to keep his memory alive.”

In addition to teaching at Loyola, Fr. McManamin taught at Sophia University in Tokyo, Wheeling Jesuit University, University of Scranton, and Saint Joseph’s University. He served a year as parochial vicar at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., a year as parochial vicar at Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia, and, in 1975, as the secretary to the American assistant in the Curia in Rome.

After leaving Loyola in 2008, Fr. McManamin was pastoral minister at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church in Woodstock, Md., until 2011, when he moved to the Colombiere Jesuit Community in Baltimore and then Manresa Hall Jesuit Community in 2013.

Diane Roche remembers that Fr. McManamin was her first professor at Loyola when she started taking undergraduate classes in 2003. She was 41 and a mother of three when she signed up for his Modern Western Civilization course.

“He was older and a bit gruff, initially an intimidating presence. He was all business. As the class went on, I grew to love his unbelievable vast knowledge and ability to convey it us,” said Roche, an undergraduate financial aid counselor at Loyola.

“Our final task was a research paper that required 10-15 pages. I was panicked to write a paper like that for my first class,” Roche said. “Fr. McManamin was so supportive and helpful and patient. I will always remember him as one of my all-time favorite professors at Loyola and one who set me on my path to getting my degree. I saw in him a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime commitment to learning and service.”

Funeral Information


Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
9 – 10:45 a.m.
Manresa Hall

Funeral Mass

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
11 a.m.
Manresa Hall
261 City Avenue
Merion Station, Pa. 19066

Interment will be private.

Loyola Mass

A memorial Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, April 22, at 11 a.m. in the Alumni Memorial Chapel. 

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