Province News

Fr. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. In memoriam

Monday, February 10th, 2014
Fr. Daniel Harrington, SJ

Fr. Daniel Harrington, SJ

Obituary Jesuit Fr. Daniel J. Harrington

Born: July 19, 1940
Entered the Society: September 1, 1958
Died: February 7, 2014
Wake: February 12, from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill, MA
Funeral: February 12, at 7:00 p.m.
St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill, MA

Dan Harrington was born on July 19, 1940 in Arlington, Massachusetts. His father, Florence Daniel Harrington, was born in Alllihies, County Cork, Ireland. His mother, Mary Agnes Brady, was born in Arlington. His older brother Edward lives in Braintree. Dan grew up in St. Agnes Parish in Arlington and he attended St. Agnes Grammar School where he was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. As a youth he played goalie in hockey and catcher in baseball. Although he won a scholarship to Matignon High School; he did not want to go there because there was no hockey team. Dan was grateful to Sr. Mary Doloretta, C.S.J., who coached him for the exam for BC High. Dan won a full scholarship and was in the first class of BC High in Dorchester in 1954. In 1955 he was a member of a Pee Wee hockey team that were national champions. He played hockey all four years and his coach was Fr. Leo Pollard, S.J. Besides Fr. Pollard, Fr. John Waterbury Kelley, S.J., Fr. Frank Krim, S.J., and Fr. John Whitney Sullivan, S.J. were teachers, who had a strong influence on Dan’s decision to become a Jesuit.

Dan was in the first class of novices who entered in 1958 at Gloucester. His novice master was Fr. John Post, S.J. While at in the novitiate Dan had a Greek New Testament course; he had only one year of Greek at BC High. Reading the Gospel of John in Greek interested Dan in the study of the New Testament. While in the juniorate, the first class to study at the new Shadowbrook, Fr. Pat Sullivan, S.J., the dean, encouraged him to study Scripture. Pat told Dan that Scripture study is the field to be in. He considered the juniorate the high point of his educational experiences.

In 1962 Dan studied philosophy at Weston. Fr. John J. Collins, S.J., then editor of New Testament Abstracts, tutored Dan in Hebrew and enlisted his help in doing abstracts and book notices for NTA. Dan would be associated with New Testament Abstracts for over 50 years. His first abstract was an article in Latin on Acts 15 about the Council of Jerusalem. He would become the editor of NTA in 1972. His ability to synthesize an article was extraordinary.

After philosophy Dan studied Ancient Near Eastern languages at Harvard University. He was one of the first members of the new John La Farge House Jesuit community in 1965. He worked most closely with Professor John Strugnell, who was an editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dan’s main area of study was Second Temple Judaism. While studying at Harvard Dan accompanied Professor Strugnell to Israel, where Dan was able to take courses at Hebrew University and the Dominican École Biblique de Jerusalem. After finishing doctoral studies Dan began theological studies at Weston in 1969. He was in the first class to do all their courses in Cambridge. Three profound influences there were Fr. George MacRae, S.J., Fr. Gerald O’Collins, S.J., who at that time would come from Australia every other semester, and Fr. Thomas F. O’Meara, O.P. Dan was ordained a priest in 1971.

After ordination Dan taught for a year at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. The following year he would join the faculty at Weston, where he would teach for over forty years. When Dan was asked where he did tertianship, he always said the Newark Airport. He had inquired about two tertianship programs, but unfortunately both tertian directors died suddenly. Dan worked out with Fr. Bob McMillan, S.J., who was the Vice Provincial for formation, to do an individual tertianship program with Fr. John Curry, S.J., director of the New York tertianship. Dan would fly into Newark Airport once a month to speak with John Curry. A month before Dan was to do the long retreat John Curry called him to inform him he had less than a month to live. Dan did the long retreat under Fr. Louis J. Lipps, S.J. in Milford, Ohio.

Dan was admired as a clear and concise lecturer. He wrote over 60 books during his teaching career. He also edited the eighteen volume Sacra Pagina series of New Testament commentaries for Liturgical Press and wrote “The Word” column for America magazine for three years. In his home parish, St. Agnes, he celebrated the five o’clock Mass on Sunday evening for over 42 years and at St Peter’s in Cambridge he presided at the noon Sunday Mass for over 21 years. A parishioner once said to Dan; “You know, I used to think you were boring, until I started listening to you.” Dan was an avid Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots fan. He once remarked; “I know more about sports unfortunately than I know about Scripture sometimes.” In 2009 Dan was diagnosed with a serious case of prostate cancer. In late 2011 the radiation and medications stopped working. He enrolled in an experimental clinical trial at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This clinical trial helped him immensely for nearly two years. He stopped this treatment this past summer. On November 21, 2013 Dan was honored by Boston College in light of his distinguished scholarly career. He moved to Campion Center for the final months of his life. He died on February 7, 2014.

Condolences: In addition to his many Jesuit brothers, Dan is survived by his brother Edward J. Harrignton. Notes of Condolences can be sent to Edward J. Harrington at 51 Bramblewood Lane, Braintree, MA., 02184.

Click here to read the text of the homily from Jesuit Father Thomas Stegman at the funeral Mass for Jesuit Father Daniel Harrington.

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