1899 – 1993 (January 15)
Richard Michael Plunkett was born on September 19, 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of eight children of Michael R. Plunkett and Bridget A. Duffy. He was one of eight children. Richard was baptized in the church of Saint Agatha, Philadelphia on October 8, 1899 and attended the parish grammar school from which he graduated in 1914. He attended Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia and following graduation in 1918, worked as a chemist at the Franklin Sugar Refining Company of Philadelphia for seven years. In 1925 at the age of 25 he entered Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, NY, as a postulant. One year later he was admitted to Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, N. Y., and professed simple vows on August 16, 1926. Three years later he professed solemn vows at Saint Mary's Hall, Villanova. In 1929, Richard graduated with an A.B. degree from Villanova College and began his studies in theology at Augustinian College in Washington, D.C. During the summer months he took graduate courses in sociology at nearby Catholic University. On June 14, 1932, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Emmett Michael Walsh in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington. The following year he finished his theology and was granted a master's degree in sociology from the Catholic University. Father continued his studies taking part-time graduate courses in chemistry and physics at Chicago University and music courses at DePaul University in Illinois. Later he took graduate courses in sociology and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Father Plunkett's first assignment was to the Province's secondary schools in the Midwest. From 1932 to 1935 he taught chemistry and physics at Saint Rita High School, Chicago, and from 1935 to 1939 at Saint Thomas High School, Rockford, IL, where he also served as vice-principal of studies and director of the school band. In 1939 he was appointed master of professed at Augustinian College, Washington D.C., where he also taught classes in liturgy. From 1945 to 1947 he was master of professed at Saint Mary's Hall on the campus of Villanova College. He continued teaching sociology and psychology at the college and was subprior at Saint Mary's until 1962. In that year Father Plunkett began parish ministry as assistant pastor of Saint Paul's in Mechanicville, N.Y. For the next 22 years he served in the parochial apostolate as pastor and prior of Our Lady of Angels, Jacksonville, FL; pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord, Dania, FL; and associate pastor at Saint John the Baptist, Shaghticoke, NY. Although semi-retired in 1973, Father served as associate pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Staten Island, NY; Saint Mary's in Lawrence, MA; and Saint Joseph's in Greenwich, NY.
In 1984, Father Plunkett, after suffering a series of angina attacks, retired to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova. Even in retirement he often made himself available as a temporary replacement in our parishes. As a member of the monastery community he assumed the responsibility of preparing the daily Mass for the infirm offered in the monastery chapel.
A reserved, almost shy person, Father Plunkett enjoyed playing the violin and on occasion showed evidence of his rich wit and wisdom. Deeply devoted to Our Mother of Good Counsel and Saint Augustine, he wrote on his last day the words clara cum laude notitia, clear knowledge with praise, a quotation from Saint Augustine's description of eternal glory. At the time of his death he was age 93.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on January 18, 1993, at the Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova. Father James Warne, O.S.A. delivered the homily. Interment was the following day in the Augustinian plot of Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.