Father Ed Davis had been a priest for nine years before his arrival in Africa as a missioner. After his ordination to priesthood in 1961, Maryknoll assigned Father Davis to its Promotion Department. His work was to recruit young men to become Maryknoll priests and Brothers and to motivate people to share in Maryknoll’s missionary work by their prayers and sacrifices. This work brought him into contact with the United States Church in the extensive areas covered by the promotion houses of Cleveland and Philadelphia and in the state of Connecticut. From 1963 to 1966, Father Davis was the Personnel Director of all the lay employees of the Maryknoll Society.
In 1970, Father Davis was assigned to Tanzania and, after language school, began pastoral work in the diocese of Shinyanga where he spent 13 of 17 years, most of that time in the rural parish mission of Mwamapalala. In 1987, Father Davis was asked to return to the States and to the work of the development department (formerly the promotion department). He was able to tell the people to whom he was sent with Maryknoll’s mission message: “For 17 years, I have worked as a priest in Africa. For 17 years. I have lived in the vestibule of Heaven. Africa and my work there were not Heaven, of course, but those years have been as close to Heaven as one can get.”
One States-side assignment led to another and Father Davis served as the Center Coordinator at the Maryknoll Headquarters and the Assistant Director of St. Teresa’s Residence, the facility for infirm and senior Maryknoll priests and Brothers. Father Davis also spent two years working on the project to systematize the archival papers of Maryknoll’ s Founders.
He returned to work in Tanzania in the Fall of 2000, and his present “vestibule of Heaven” is the parish of St. Bakhita, Maryknoll’s urban parish in Dar Es Salaam, where he is the pastor.