CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Maryknoll mourns two old Hong Kong hands

HONG KONG (SE): The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers are mourning the deaths of two of their members who spent time working in Hong Kong.

A former superior of the congregation in Hong Kong, Father José Angel Arámburu, died at St. Teresa’s Residence in Maryknoll, New York, in the United States of America (US), on August 18, and Father Thomas Danaher, who passed away at the Phelps Memorial Hospital, Sleepy Hollow, New York, on August 13.

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, on 2 October 1947, Father Arámburu had a short stint as local superior. Elected in 2007 and later becoming regional superior of the Asian region, he was elected as vicar general at the Twelfth General Chapter of the society in November 2008, returning to the US to take up his position.

During his six years in Hong Kong he studied Cantonese and worked in prison chaplaincy.

The son of José Arámburu and Maria Iguina de Arámburu, he graduated in chemical engineering from the Recinto Universiterio de Mayaguez of the Universiterio de Peurto Rico and worked for the local Water Resources Authority prior to entering Maryknoll at Hingham in 1978.

In May 1980, he went to Tanzania, Africa, as a seminarian, where he continued his theological studies and worked in parishes at Bunda and Zanaki in the diocese of Musoma, before returning to the US to do a master’s in theology at the Maryknoll School of Theology.

In 1984 he was elected to represent the temporary members of the society at a General Chapter.

His first assignment after ordination on 5 May 1984, was in Peru and he began with studies in the Aymara language in Cochabamba, Colombia, in preparation for a three-year assignment among the Huacané people, before being transferred to the Southern Andes as vocations director in the pre-seminary programme.

He returned to the US in 1992 dividing his time between work in the society’s personnel office and a master’s in social work at Fordham University, which he completed in 1995.

He attended a General Chapter again in that year and five years on, when Maryknoll set up a Department of Members Services, he became its founding director.

The year 2002 saw him at yet another General Chapter, this time in Bangkok, Thailand, and Maryknoll, New York and, after a two-year sabbatical, Father Arámburu arrived in Hong Kong.

During his time as vicar general, he continued his ministry to those behind bars in Sing Sing Prison near the Maryknoll headquarters in Ossining, until poor health necessitated his move to St. Teresa’s Residence.

His final farewell took place on August 24 in the land of his birth at the parish of San Miguel Arcángel and he is buried in the Municipal Cemetery of Arecibo.

Father Danaher grew up with his five sisters and four brothers in St. Joseph, on the banks of the Missouri River where outlaw, Jesse James, met his fate and the famed Pony Express set out for California.

Born to John and Lucy Clarke Danaher, he entered Maryknoll on 5 September 1952 at the junior seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, before moving on to Maryknoll College in Glen Ellen, Illinois, for studies in philosophy the following year.

In 1957, he began theology studies at Maryknoll New York and was ordained on 9 June 1962 before coming to Hong Kong and beginning Cantonese studies in Stanley.

He then worked in the parishes of Our Lady of the Nativity Park in Tung Tau Tsuen, Kowloon, and St. Peter in Chains, Kowloontsai, where he began his long involvement with the Young Christian Workers (YCW).

In 1974, he was made chaplain to the National Team of the YCW, working to improve and change structural problems that working people struggle to overcome in order to live with dignity and fulfill their God-given role in life.

Then in 1969 he became part of an enervative pastoral programme set up by Maryknoll as part of the diocesan response to Vatican II in Kwun Tong and later served in the parishes of Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Resurrection.

In 1976 he moved into the world of journalism, becoming the Asian correspondent for Maryknoll magazine and then in 1981 he was back to the US at the Maryknoll Development Department in Denver, Colorado.

His next step took him to a working class area of Santiago, Chile, before returning to the US to prepare to become the Asian representative in the society’s Social Communications Department in Hong Kong.

He had another stint in Denver in 1994, returning to Hong Kong in 1997 and settling in St. Matthew the Apostle parish, Tuen Mun, giving his time and energies to the many migrant workers in the area. He also celebrated Mass regularly in Lai Lam Women’s Prison.

During this period, he continued his work in the area of social justice with the Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples in Homantin.

In 2010 he retired to Maryknoll in New York, later spending time in Colorado near his sister, then moving to Los Altos, California.

He was buried in the Maryknoll Society Cemetery on August 21. He was 78-years-old.

More from this section