Father Denis J. Hanly died on October 26, 2014 at Mission St. Teresa’s, Maryknoll, New York. He was 82 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 55 years.
Denis John Hanly, the middle child and only son of Sarah Jane Kelly and John Hanly, was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 29, 1932. He graduated from St. Teresa of Avila grammar school in 1946, and after one year at Brooklyn Preparatory High School, where he became interested in foreign missions, he entered Maryknoll’s Minor Seminary at the Venard in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania in September 1947. Subsequently, he received his B.A. in Philosophy at Glen Ellyn and a S.T.B. and M.R.E. at Maryknoll, New York.
After his ordination on June 13, 1959, Father Hanly was assigned to Taiwan. After nine months of language study (Taiwanese) in Taichung, he spent the next six years in parish work in the Taichung Prefecture. In 1965 he was assigned to the faculty of Maryknoll Seminary where he served as Assistant Spiritual Director and set up a Field Education Department. He also was instrumental in establishing the Overseas Training Program. In 1969 he was appointed Pastor of Transfiguration Church in Chinatown, New York, where he served until 1976 when the parish was given back by Maryknoll to the Archdiocese of New York.
Father Hanly said that when he first arrived in Taiwan, it was still an agricultural country and it was an ideal place to learn firsthand the traditional culture of the Chinese people. It only began to industrialize after he left in 1965. When he returned in 1976, however, the whole country and its people had been totally transformed. In his six years and six assignments in Taiwan, it was amazing how much valuable experience he managed to crowd into such a short span of time.
Father Hanly returned to Asia and was assigned, after a year and a half of language study in New Asian College, to the Maryknoll Region of Hong Kong. He worked for the local church in parishes throughout the diocese as an assistant parish priest. He was assigned to St. Margaret Mary’s Church in Hong Kong, where he was in charge of the English language parish members. He remained at St. Margaret Mary’s Church until July 2014 when he returned to the United States and took up residence at Mission St. Teresa’s.
Fr. Hanly served the Diocese of Hong Kong for over 37 years, placing his many years of experience in pastoral ministry at the disposal of the local church. At the time of his 50th Jubilee in 2009, Father Hanly said: “Looking back over my life, I am overwhelmed and humbled by God’s gracious and gentle kindness to me, and the generous outpouring of love I have received from His people in service to them.”
Father Hanly is survived by his sisters: Margaret (Pat) Bisceglie, 239 Newtown Tpke, Weston, CT 06880 and Ann (Dick) Meadows, 5951 Sleepy Hollow Rd., Banning, CA 92220.
Wake services were held at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at St. Teresa’s. Father Hanly’s family received condolences and prayers at 9:30 a.m. on October 30, 2014 in the Lady Chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Father John Sullivan was Principal Celebrant and Father Raymond Nobiletti was homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father Edward Dougherty conducting the graveside service.
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This is an inspirational description of the life of a wonderful priest. As I am now less than a year away from my own 50 jubilee of priesthood I ask God to give me the grace to continue to serve the people and priests in my diocese, for as long as I can remembering the example of the life and service of Father Denis J. Hanley, M.M.