With both the personal traits and life experiences that only the best Vincentian vocation story has to offer, Fr. Joseph V. Daly’s long Vincentian journey came to an end when he died peacefully in his sleep at St. Catherine's Infirmary in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday, June 14, 2020. A beloved Vincentian for 60 years, Fr. Daly or “Dales” as he was known around campus was just days shy of his 89th birthday and had served at St. John’s University for more than five decades until his retirement in 2015.
“Central casting could not have produced a better example of what it means to be a Vincentian than Fr. Daly,” observed Fr. Michael J. Carroll, C.M., Director of the Miraculous Medal Shrine and a longtime confrere and co-worker of Fr. Daly. “His character, his career, his life’s commitment was in service to others and he did it so well for so long.”
Very Rev. Stephen M. Grozio, C.M., Provincial Superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission and Provincial Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees stated “In both demeanor and devotion Fr. Joe Daly demonstrated the Vincentian charism and he touched countless lives during his remarkable ministry.”
Gregarious, a great storyteller and a person who enjoyed a well-told joke, a good party and was someone that approached with vigor both a day at the office or day on vacation Fr. Daly lived the old Irish adage “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”
A native of Astoria, Queens, Fr. Daly was the second of four children born to Patrick J. and Mary C. Daly both immigrants from County Monaghan, Ireland who by their example emphasized the importance of faith and family. The proud parents would see two children pursue vocations. Fr. Daly is survived by Sr. Ann Daly, PVBM a Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An older sister, Patricia, died as an infant and younger brother Thomas died in 2007.
Fr. Daly attended Immaculate Conception School, St. John's Prep and St. John’s University before entering St. Joseph’s College, Princeton, NJ to study for the Vincentian priesthood. He pronounced his perpetual vows in 1952 and after six years of theological and ecclesiastical studies at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, PA he was ordained a priest by the legendary Vincentian missionary, Bishop John O’Shea in 1960.
His first assignment saw him return to St. John’s Prep to teach and later to St. Thomas More High School in Philadelphia. He then moved to pastoral and educational missionary work spending four years in Panama where he learned Spanish, a skill that would serve him well throughout his ministry. After returning to St. John’s Prep in 1967, he served as headmaster between 1969 and 1972. He began his service at St. John’s University in 1973 and would serve the University in various capacities over the next 42 years.
Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., the 16th President of St. John’s, remarked “Fr. Daly’s tenure spanned five decades, and four different Presidents and we were all the grateful beneficiaries of his good counsel.”
“He was the family priest not just to the Daly family but to the larger St. John’s family,” remarked Sr. Ann Daly, PBVM. “He baptized, presided at First Communions, married and buried generations of the St. John’s family and beyond and was beloved by all who knew him.”
While in the Office of Campus Ministry, Fr. Daly helped create what became known as the “Sunday community” a gathering of worshippers who years before the construction of St. Thomas More Church and the Student Sunday Mass would gather for weekly mass and fellowship.
“He was our founding pastor,” described Walter “Wally” Smith ‘80CBA, ‘85MBA a longtime worshipper at St. John’s. “Some people were disenfranchised by their parishes and Fr. Daly welcomed them here and it was at St. Johns that they found a home and a church.” Mr. Smith recalled how Fr. Daly was always a great talker but was an even better listener; “He met people where they were and then he brought them into his home, into his family and the larger church family.”
While retaining his post at the University Fr. Daly’s ministry included assignments as the Director of the Daughters of Charity (Emmitsburg, MD), the Office of Campus Ministry and Special Assistant to the President at St. John’s. He also served as Assistant Provincial and was a member of the Provincial Council. Along the way, Fr. Daly earned two master's degrees from St. John’s.
Eva Wilk a Public Safety Officer and a close friend recalled “Even as Fr. Daly’s health declined, he insisted on going to the office regularly and I would assist him on the short ride from the Vincentian Residence—Murray House—to his office on the third floor of Newman Hall. Our short ride would always be extended as Fr. Daly insisted on stopping to talk to students and employees that we would see along the way.” He was sincere when he asked people, ‘How are you doing?' If you knew him you loved him, and how Fr. Daly was loved at St. John's.”
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, funeral services will be limited to close family. A memorial Mass and celebration of the life of Fr. Daly will be scheduled on campus at a future date.
Expressions of condolence may be sent c/o:
St. John’s University
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439