McMahon, Thomas John

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Mission director; b. Tuxedo Park, N.Y., April 5, 1909; d. New York City, Dec. 6, 1956. His parents, James J. and Bridget (Brennan) McMahon, had him educated at Cathedral College, N.Y., and St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, N.Y. He then enrolled at the North American College in Rome, where he was ordained for the New York Archdiocese on Dec. 5, 1933. After receiving a doctorate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1936, he was appointed to teach church history and patrology at Dunwoodie. On May 24, 1943, he became master of ceremonies to Abp. (later Cardinal) Francis Spellman and national secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), New York. He was made a papal chamberlain in 1945 and a domestic prelate in 1947.

On May 13, 1949, McMahon was named president of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, erected by Pius XII to care for Palestinian Arab refugees of the Arab-Jewish war. He spent many months in the Middle East forming committees, directing the assignment of supplies, and opening schools and medical centers. He was praised for his work by Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, and he was made a Canon of the Holy Sepulchre, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and a prothonotary apostolic. McMahon's health was badly affected by the rigors of Middle East life, and he resigned his missionary assignment in 1954 to become founder and first pastor of the Church of Our Savior in New York City.

McMahon served in 1948 as moderator of St. Paul's Guild, which was organized to help converts. He also directed the Morgan Fraternity, an association for alumni of Cathedral College and St. Joseph's Seminary who do not continue to ordination. As one of the organizers of the Fordham Conference on Eastern Rites, he wrote "Islands of Christianity in the Rising Moslem Sea" (America, March 4, 1944). In 1951 he published Silver Threads, a booklet describing CNEWA on its 25th anniversary.

[w. k. dunn]