RICHARD BRIAN MacDONOUGH, P.S.S.
February 26, 1935 – March 10, 2020
Born February 26, 1935, and raised in Brewer, ME, Fr. MacDonough was one of three children of John and Flavilla (nee Goody) MacDonough. He is survived by his brother, John, and sister, Jane.
Fr. MacDonough was educated in Brewer parochial schools. He earned his B.A. at Assumption College, Worcester, MA (1956) and then entered St. Mary’s Seminary & University where he earned the S.T.B in 1958 and the S.T.L. in 1960. He was ordained for the Diocese of Portland, ME on May 12, 1960. He immediately joined the Society of St. Sulpice and was admitted as a member in 1963.
As a Sulpician candidate (1960-1962), Fr. MacDonough’s first assignment was to teach French and to direct the choir at St. Edward’s High School, Kenmore, WA. After teaching at St. Edward’s for two years, Fr. MacDonough attended the Sulpician Solitude program in Baltimore from 1962-1963. He then began teaching at the college level at St. Thomas Seminary, Louisville, KY. He prepared himself to teach at the college level by studying English and French as his specialty. He earned the M.A. in French from Laval University, Quebec, Canada in 1962. After continuing his studies through the summers, he earned his Ph.D. in French from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY in 1971.
At St. Thomas Seminary, he taught French, English, speech, and art appreciation. He remained at St. Thomas Seminary until it closed in 1970. He came back to Baltimore to St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Liberal Arts College in Catonsville, MD from 1971-1978. There he served as Academic Dean and taught French, speech, and art appreciation. He then went west to St. Patrick’s College (1978-1982), subsequently called St. Joseph’s College, Mountain View, CA (1982-1990). Again, he served as Academic Dean and taught speech, history, English, theology, art appreciation, and general humanities.
As Academic Dean in both Catonsville and Mountain View, Fr. MacDonough acquired the reputation of being a strong advocate for keeping high academic standards. In his characteristic conscientious manner, he followed through on this goal by the way he showed a special interest in the academic growth of each student.
After St. Joseph’s College was damaged by the 1989 earthquake, and the Sulpicians had no other colleges to which he could be assigned, Fr. MacDonough’s love for seminary formation enabled him to take a position on the faculty of a non-Sulpician seminary, St. John’s Seminary College, Camarillo, CA. He found a new home in the community of St. John’s Seminary where he lived out his teaching and Sulpician ministry as a full-time faculty member from 1991-2004.
While teaching at St. John’s, he was able to complete two articles on his relative, the early Sulpician missionary Fr. François Ciquard (1754-1824): “The Missionary in Spite of Himself: François Ciquard” and “François Ciquard, S.S.: Missionary to the Maine Indians (1792-94).” In the September, 1999 issue of La Société historique acadienne: Les Cahiers, he published a lengthy article that became incorporated into his book, The “Apostolic Missionary”: François Ciquard, His Life and Memoirs, (2005). His research and writing combined his three loves: the history of St. Sulpice, French, and the history of Maine.
Fr. MacDonough so loved southern California that he decided to retire there in 2005, but he continued to serve in a part-time position for St. John’s College Seminary as an adjunct spiritual director until 2015, when he brought his ministry as a seminary formator to a close. A serious setback from prostate cancer in the summer of 2018 brought him back to Catonsville, MD to the Sulpician retirement community, Villa Olier, in September 2018.
While at the Villa, his prostate cancer continued to advance slowly but relentlessly. For as long as he could, he enjoyed contributing to the community life by playing the organ for Mass on occasion and by joining his confreres for the evening socials and a glass of wine. Eventually he became wheelchair-bound and admitted to home hospice at the Villa on September 11, 2019.
Fr. MacDonough died on March 10, 2020and was buried on March 14, 2020 in the Sulpician cemetery in Catonsville, MD following the funeral liturgy in the Chapel of Villa Olier. At his Mass of the Resurrection, the Provincial, Very Rev. John C. Kemper, P.S.S. presided, Fr. David Thayer, P.S.S., General Consultor and colleague at both St. Mary’s Liberal Arts College and St. Joseph’s College, Mountain View, CA, preached the homily, and the Director of the Villa, Fr. Dan Doherty, P.S.S. led the committal service at the graveside.
Fr. MacDonough heard, as did the Psalmist, that the Lord would teach him the way he should go and counsel him lovingly. In the imitation of how the Lord taught and counseled him, so did Fr. MacDonough teach and counsel throughout his Sulpician ministry. Teaching was his first love. He regretted that he could never use his advanced degrees to teach upper level courses in the college, but he remained deeply committed to the ministry of seminary formation. Those who knew him as a demanding teacher and wise counselor in those formative years of college hold a special place for Fr. MacDonough in their hearts.