Michael Donnelly (priest)

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For other people named Michael Donnelly, see Michael Donnelly (disambiguation).

Michael Thomas Donnelly (born June 4, 1927 — died 1982) was a Roman Catholic missionary priest from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was born to Teresa Fitzpatrick Donnelly and Michael Thomas Donnelly. His younger brother, Hugh Patrick Donnelly, survives and resides in Newark, Delaware, USA.

He joined the Montfort Missionaries, also known as [[The Company of Mary]], after completing his academic and theological studies at Montfort College in Romsey, Hampshire, UK. From the late 1950s through the early 1970s, Father Michael worked as a Missionary priest in Pirimiti, Southern Region, Zomba District, Malawi, formerly the Nyasaland Protectorate, on the continent of Africa. While in Malawi, Father Michael was successful in his efforts to build a church and school for the mission. Indeed, it was during this time in his clergical career that he made the most meaningful contributions to humanity and the people of Malawi, whom he greatly loved. He was fluent in Chichewa.

When on sabbatical, Father Michael would take residence at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Parish, a ministry of the Montfort Missionaries in Ozone Park, Queens, NY. Additionally, he would also reside with his younger brother, Hugh, and his family in Newark, Delaware. While in Delaware, Father Donnelly would occasionally say mass at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Newark. His affable, compassionate and intelligent manner helped him establish many friendships among missionary and diocesan priests and nuns and parishioners in both locations.

In the early 1970s, Father Michael was a monk in Mexico. He became fluent in Spanish.

During his life, Father Michael was consistently attracted to and interested in apparitions of The Blessed Mother and Catholic Mysticism. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina was of great interest to him.

As Father Michael was a fervent believer in Traditionalist Catholicism, the combination of his interests in mysticism and traditionalist beliefs may have attracted him to the Palmarian Movement. After his work in Mexico, Father Michael travelled to Spain to further investigate alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at El Palmar de Troya. He was later consecrated a bishop on January 1, 1976 at El Palmar de Troya, Spain by Ngo Dinh Thuc Pierre Martin.

He did become part of the Palmarian movement for a few months after his consecration. Subsequently, he left, repudiating his involvement with the Palmarians and was reconciled to Pope John Paul II, even though officially laicized.

Father Michael died of rheumatic heart disease in 1982, in a small village outside of Seville, Spain. He had begun work on forming a small church that was located inside a house in that village.

He is entombed in a niche in El Cementerio de San Fernando in Seville, Spain.


Episcopal lineage
Consecrated by: Peter Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc