By Francis Njuguna/ photos available
On Saturday, February 22, 2020, over 200 Kenyan Catholics- lay people, priests and religious women converged at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic church in Nairobi, Kenya for the memorial Mass of the late Father Richard Quinn, MM, who passed on January 27, 2020 in the United States of America (USA), his native country.
The Mass, presided over by three priests, among them Father Joseph Healey, MM was lively and so was the organized sharing session on his life thereafter.
Speaker after speaker, old and young, men and women moved in to share on what they knew about the late Maryknoll missionary priest, MM, a native of the USA Missionaries of the Catholic Church-Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers
The late Father Quinn, popularly known among friends and colleagues as “Dick Quinn” had spent a total of 45 active years of his pastoral service in both Kenya and Tanzania with Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa
He died in the US at the age of 93 and was buried there on February 3, 2020.
The late Father Quinn came to Africa, Tanzania by then Tanganyika to be specific in 1964, where he served in Maryknoll’s Mission region around Musoma on the shores of Lake Victoria.
In Tanzania, for instance, Father Quinn was on record as having assisted a group of Tanzanian musicians form their own musical ground that went with the name Mara Jazz Band as part of his wider pastoral mission.
The Band later become famous not only in Tanzania but also in the entire East African region.
When he crossed over to Kenya, his commitment to pastoral work had hardly left him. It did follow him.
In the Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Kisii, Father Quinn assisted the local catholic church to establish the first ever Leadership Training Center, Viongozi Senta at Kebirigo Parish.
“This I did after discovering that the need to have Christians and in particular way, the lay people, trained in various aspects of the church leadership, was quite necessary. This is why I moved in to assist towards this direction,” he once told me in a chat at the Maryknoll House, Nairobi-Kenya.
On his participation in assisting the Tanzanian musical group establish their own band-Mara Jazz, Father Quinn was at one time quick to tell me: “It was out of my conviction on the need to do this that I moved in to assist the group,”
The next move while in Kenya was to implement his long dream of ‘evangelizing through images”.“This resulted the founding of the first ever Ukweli Video Productions in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi,” Father Quinn was at one time quick to disclose this to me as narrated in the book Building the Church as Family of God_ Evaluation of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa – Small Christian Communities .Under the subtitle: CDs, DVDs/Videos/Podcasts/Talks/Reports/Power points/Presentations/Audio-visual Resources (61)1471 on page 1094, the book has documented several videos, the late Father Quinn had done on the Small Christian Communities, SCCs.
But this, he added was not a walk in the park. There were those, who were opposed to the move.
“It was Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, the then head of the Archdiocese of Nairobi, who came to my ‘rescue’. He threw his weight support behind me as he gave me an okay to go ahead and realize my BIG dream’. Others including priests had totally opposed it,” he would disclose this to me later on.
He would also disclose to me:
“Today, as I retire from my pastoral mission, I am a happy one as I have seen the fruits of my labor. I have managed to convince the church and more so in Africa that it is possible to evangelize through visual aids.”
On yet another pastoral step, Father Quinn will be remembered for his role in instituting Catholic Church prayer groups under the banner: John Paul II Evangelizing Parish Teams.
“Pope John Paul II by then and now Saint John Paul II inspired me a lot towards this direction,” the late Father Quinn told me when I visited him at the Maryknoll House, Nairobi- Kenya sometime in the past.
He would also add that the powerful biblical verse to the effect that, “Go yee to the world and proclaim the Good News,” had equally inspired him. https://amecea.org/
In a recent chat with Father Joseph Healey, MM, the missionary priest told me that, “upon Father Quinn’s death announcement, the social media and in particular, the Facebook Pages went ‘wild’ with messages of condolences on the late American priest.
“I counted more than 100 such messages by the time “Dick Quinn” was laid to rest,” he shared.
“I thought this is the best way to show that “Dick Quinn” had made ‘name’ for himself among the people he had served. Otherwise how else would you explain this scenario?” he posed.
And upon his demise, the Office General Council of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in New York, USA said in its statement (in part)
Father Richard J. Quinn, MM (1926-2020)
Richard J. Quinn was born in Passaic, New Jersey, son of William John and Mary Holland Quinn. He had four brothers and one sister. He attended St. Paul’s Grammar School and graduated from Pope Pius XII High School in Passaic, New Jersey in June 1945.
He entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard), Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1945. At Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, New York, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in June 1949, his Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree in June 1953 and his Master of Religious Education degree in June 1954. He was ordained a priest in Annunciation Chapel at the Maryknoll Sisters’ Motherhouse, Ossining on June 12, 1954.
Father Quinn is survived by his niece, Mrs. Colleen Q. Greenberg, 60 Littlewood Ct., Wayne, NJ 07420-2457,his nephew, Mr. Richard Quinn, 10 Dogwood Tr., Kinnelon, NJ 07405-2895; and many other nieces and nephews.
A Rosary and wake service was held at 4:00 p.m. on February 2, 2020 in the Holy Spirit Chapel at the Maryknoll Society Center. The biography was read by Father Michael G. Callanan. Father Quinn’s remains were transferred to the Lady Chapel on February 3, 2020 at 9:30 a.m., where his family received condolences and prayers until 10:45 a.m.
Mass of Christian Burial followed at 11:00 a.m. and was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel. Father Edward J. Phillips was Principal Celebrant and Father Lance P. Nadeau was homilist.