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Monaghan, John Patrick


Leader in Catholic social thought and activity; b. Dunamore, Tyrone, Ireland, Feb. 12, 1890; d. New York City, June 26, 1961. He was the son of Patrick and Bridget (McCormick) Monaghan. He was educated at St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y., and St. Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y., before being ordained a priest for the New York Archdiocese.

Monaghan was an early promoter of Catholic social teachings. From the mid-1920s to his death, he, along with his close friends Msgr. John A. ryan and Bp. Francis J. haas, was known as a "labor priest." He was one of the most influential priests in New York, especially through his contribution to the establishment of Catholic Labor Schools (1935), the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists (ACTU, 1937), and the Labor Day Mass (1937). Belief in the ability of workingmen to solve their own problems, once they had the necessary knowledge, led Monaghan to initiate a program of worker education that gave to union and non-union members a basic course in labor economics, the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and parliamentary procedure. It was chiefly his work with the ACTU, however, that made him a latterday Peter E. dietz. The ACTU was not a Catholic labor union; it was, rather, an organization under Catholic auspices for the training of rank and file union members, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, in their social rights and responsibilities. In this work Monaghan found himself opposed, first by management and financial interests, but later even by entrenched labor leaders, particularly the racketeers and communists.

In other areas as well, he was a forward-looking leader. Before the days of the Catholic Youth Organization, he operated one of the best youth programs in New York City. At the time when Dom Virgil michel was preaching liturgical revival, Monaghan's parish on Staten Island was nationally known for its liturgical practices. He was a pioneer in the field of adult education; and at the parish school level he argued that the inclusion of religion in the curriculum never compensated for educational mediocrity. He was not, however, an "organization man"; he can better be described as a personalist. His influence on priests and their pastoral ministry, attributable in part to his long career in New York's diocesan preparatory seminary, and his courageous attitude in the face of serious difficulties were the basis for his fame. The record of his thinking is best found in the Labor Leader, the organ of the ACTU, in which he wrote a column called "Don Capellano." His comments were pointed and pungent. "Atheistic Communism is not half the menace to Christianity that the blight of self-complacent Catholicity is." "Revolution is not something that comes with the roll of drums and the shouts of a mob. Revolution is a change of ideas." "Most of us are not spiritually equal to the life of creative beggary by which St. Francis forgot himself into immortality. If we tried it, we would probably turn out as quite ordinary tramps." Monaghan was raised to the rank of domestic prelate in 1957, and at the time of his death he was pastor of St. Michael's Church, New York City.

[g. a. kelly]

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