Br. Michael Downey, O.P. (1938-2017)
August 2, 2017
Brother Martin Michael Downey, O.P., died peacefully in the morning of July 15, 2017, at Rosary Hill Home, Hawthorne, NY at the age of 79. For over fifty years, Br. Downey served the province and the Church, ministering for considerable time at both the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, and the provincial headquarters in New York City. He is survived by his sister Theresa Striker, his nephews Robert, Ken, Justin, Sidney, Joal, and his niece Rebecca.
Brother Downey was born on July 10, 1938, in Gloucester, NJ, to Joseph John and Veronica Imelda (née Manion) Downey, and named Martin William. He attended St. Mary’s Grammar School and Gloucester Catholic High School, both in Gloucester, NJ.
He entered the Dominican Novitiate on July 24, 1960, at St. Joseph Priory in Somerset, OH, and received the religious name Michael. He made his first profession there on July 25, 1961. After profession, he was assigned to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. In 1963, he was assigned to St. Catherine of Siena Priory in New York City. In February 1967, he was assigned to St. Stephen’s Priory in Dover, MA, where he made his solemn profession on July 25, 1967. While at Stephen’s Priory, he taught CCD and helped with youth retreats in addition to assisting with maintenance of the priory.
On July 5, 1971, Brother Downey was assigned again to the Dominican House of Studies where he served as Registrar and Secretary of Studies for the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception (PFIC). While there, he earned a BA (1973) and an MA (1977) in Religious Studies from Providence College, taking classes during the summers and during a brief leave of absence from his duties at the PFIC. In 1975, he was appointed Assistant to the Student Master for Cooperator Brothers. In 1977, he began serving as Guest Master of the Dominican Villa in Sea Bright, NJ, during the summers.
He was assigned to Sacred Heart Priory in Jersey City, NJ, on May 12, 1980, and then reassigned on November 21, 1980, to St. Vincent Ferrer Priory in New York City, where he was appointed as Assistant Director of the St. Martin de Porres Guild and the St. Jude Dominican Missions. In 1983, he was appointed Mission Secretary for the Province, and in 1988 Director of the St. Jude Dominican Missions.
On June 8, 1994, he was assigned to the Dominican House of Studies, where he served as Economic Administrator for three terms. He also served on the Vocation Council and Joint Formation Council.
On August 2, 2002, he was assigned to St. Vincent Ferrer Priory in New York City and appointed Assistant Provincial Economic Administrator. After nine years, he concluded his service in 2011. He remained active in the community serving as Guest Master as he had done during many other assignments as well.
In April of 2017, Brother Downey was diagnosed with stomach cancer. In May, he moved to Rosary Hill Home to receive palliative care from the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.
Brother Downey’s body was received at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on July 19, 2017 at 6:45 pm. The Office of the Dead was celebrated that evening. Very Rev. Kenneth Letoile, O.P., Prior Provincial, was the principal celebrant and preacher at the Mass of Christian Burial celebrated at 10:00 am the next day at St. Vincent Ferrer Church. Interment followed at All Souls Cemetery, Pleasantville, NY.