1922 – 1995 (January 26)
James Robert McNally, son of James McNally and Yvonne Landry, was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on April 1, 1922. He attended St. Patrick Parochial School and the Wetherbee Public School, both in Lawrence. In 1937, he entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, as a postulant, and graduated in 1941. In September of that year, he entered Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, N. Y. However, due to illness, he was absent from the novitiate for five months and thus had to begin his novitiate again on February 9, 1942. He professed simple vows on February 10, 1943, and began studies at Villanova College. Three years later he professed solemn vows and in June of that year, received his B.A. degree. The young graduate began theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., where he was ordained to the priesthood on June 7, 1949 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
After ordination Father McNally continued his studies at Villanova University summer session, majoring in education. He studied chemistry and physics at Fordham University, N. Y., and chemistry at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. In 1950, Father McNally was assigned to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Bronx, New York, where he assisted in the parish and taught religion in the high school. From September, 1951 to June 1954, he taught chemistry, physics and math at Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, D.C. He then became an assistant pastor in Saint Augustine Parish, Troy, N.Y. In 1958, he continued his ministry at St. Theresa Parish in Carson City, Nevada, and in 1959, became Vice President, Dean of Boys, Athletic Director and teacher of Religion, History and English at Bishop Manogue High School, Reno, Nevada. During this teaching assignment he was the weekend pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Virginia City, Nevada. From 1959 to 1962, he attended the University of Nevada, where he studied Education, School Administration, and Counseling. In September of 1963, Father McNally became assistant pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Director of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. While in the State of Nevada, Father McNally also served as chaplain to the Nevada State Prison and Chaplain to the Newman Club at the University of Nevada. He had also earned the title of Provincial Chaplain of all Newman Clubs in Southern California. In 1972, he returned to the east and was assigned as assistant pastor of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Bronx, New York.
Father McNally was known as the "street priest" since he was instrumental in organizing the tenants in apartment buildings, who were seeking better living conditions. In his efforts to bring about social change in the area, he was one of the prime supporters of Curtis Sliwa in forming The Guardian Angels, a dynamic group of dedicated people seeking to restore law and order to the Borough of the Bronx.
In 1979, Father McNally was transferred to Saint Rita Church in South Philadelphia, where he worked with the youth and senior citizens in the parish. Due to ill health, in June 1992, he was assigned to Saint Mary Church, Lawrence, Ma., where he continued to serve the poor of the area.
Father McNally succumbed to pneumonia in the Mariner Healthcare facility in Methuen, Mass., on January 26, 1995. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in St. Mary Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts on January 29, 1995, followed by interment in the parish cemetery.