1897 – 1987 (December 1)
James Michael Hurley was born on February 1, 1897 in New York City to Michael Hurley and Mary O'Neill, the family, consisting of his older sister, Catherine, and two brothers, James and Neil. James was baptized at Saint John the Evangelist, Bronx, N.Y., and was confirmed at Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish. Both parents died while he was still young and, for a time, the family was separated. In his later years he confided that he hardly remembered his parents. His grammar school education was in the Bronx parochial schools, and his high school education, from 1913 to 1916, was spent as a postulant at Villanova Prep, upon the advice of the friars of Saint Nicholas Parish. After graduation he took courses in accounting at Pace University in West Chester, New York. In 1918 he briefly entered the United States Navy, serving with the Quartermaster Corps from June until December. In 1920 James enrolled in Villanova College as a postulant. On June 23, 1922, he was received into novitiate at Villanova, and professed simple vows on June 23, 1923. He completed college and received his A.B. degree in June 1924. He professed solemn vows on June 24, 1926, and was ordained by Cardinal Dougherty at the campus church of Villanova on August 29, 1926. He continued his studies at The Catholic University, Washington, DC, and in 1927 under the direction of Monsignor Guildea earned a masters degree in history. In 1946 Villanova University conferred an honorary Doctor of Law degree upon Father Hurley, and in 1951 the Universidad of Santo Tomás, Havana, Cuba, honored him with a doctorate in Education. In 1957 as former rector, he delivered the principal address when Santo Tomás was elevated to the status of a Catholic University. Father Hurley's first assignment following his ordination was to teach at the Colegio San Agustín in Havana, Cuba. In 1929 he was assigned to Saint Augustine High School, San Diego, California, first as a teacher, and then from 1930 to 1932 as principal. In 1932 he was appointed Master of Novices at Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, where he remained until 1936 when he returned to California as prior and principal of Villanova Preparatory School, Ojai, In 1944 he was transferred to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Bronx, New York, as prior of the community and parish assistant. He later returned to Saint Nicholas as prior and pastor from 1959 to 1965.
In 1946 Father Hurley returned to Havana, Cuba, as rector of the Universidad de Santo Tomás, remaining until 1950. That year he began his long service in our parishes, first at Saint Mary's, Lawrence, Massachusetts, as prior, and as pastor from 1959. He returned to Saint Mary's as prior and pastor from 1965 to 1971. In 1971 Father Hurley was transferred to Our Lady of Good Counsel, Staten Island, New York, as assistant pastor. In 1983, now well into his eighties, Father Hurley retired to Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, where he died peacefully on December 1, 1987, at the age of 90.
Father Hurley was a familiar figure on the university campus. Despite his impaired hearing, he retained his wonderful sense of humor and his gift for storytelling.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the campus church of Saint Thomas. Father Hurley is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.