Father Dennis W. Cleary marks 40 years as missioner

Mon, May 29th 2017 08:00 am
Father Dennis W. Cleary
Father Dennis W. Cleary

MARYKNOLL — Father Dennis W. Cleary, MM, of Buffalo, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination on Sunday, June 25. He is one of 21 Maryknollers to commemorate his ordination to the priesthood or Final Oath as a Maryknoll Brother in ceremonies to be held at the Maryknoll Mission Center in Ossining.

After ordination on May 21, 1977, Father Cleary was assigned to Venezuela to work in a parish in Caracas.  In 1978, he worked as the coordinator of the Barinas pastoral team. Living among the poor in barrios in the area of Barinas, Father Cleary created Channel Zero, a popular education program that included training, filming, editing and disseminating news among three barrios.  He also launched a production studio in Caracas that prepared documentaries and barrio forums aimed at motivating faith-based Christian communities to identify and resolve challenges.

In 1983, Father Cleary was elected first assistant regional for Maryknoll's Venezuela Region.  He was elected second assistant in 1986.  He became regional superior of the Venezuela Region in 1989.

After completing a sabbatical at the University of Notre Dame in 1993, he was assigned to Maryknoll's mission promotion department. Father Cleary served in Maryknoll's Houston house and then served as director at Maryknoll's Jacksonville, Fla., house.  In 1997, he was appointed regional superior of Maryknoll's U.S. Region and was re-elected for a second term in 2000.  He represented Maryknoll in U.S. Church organizations, including the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and the U.S. Catholic Bishops Mission Committee.

In 2004, Father Cleary was assigned to Maryknoll's Asia Region and taught English at Northeastern University in Shenyang in the North China province of Liaoning. During that period, he also led a reflection group for members of the local church in Shenyang, prepared language and cultural orientation programs for new teachers, and counseled university students.

Father Cleary returned to the United States in 2006 and was appointed director of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Mission Education and Promotion Department.  In 2007, he became publisher of Maryknoll and Revista Maryknoll magazines (now referred to as Misioneros). After returning to Asia in 2010, Father Cleary began teaching at the Korean Catholic Missionary Society Formation House in Seoul. He was assigned to Hong Kong in 2011 as director of the Maryknoll China Teachers Program. In 2013, Father Cleary was assigned to the Maryknoll Senior Missioner Community with continued residence in Hong Kong. He returned to the United States in 2014 and is presently teaching a program of accent reduction to international priests and assisting with Maryknoll church appeals in the Diocese of Buffalo.

Born on Aug. 11, 1948, in Buffalo, Father Cleary earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. John Vianney Seminary (now Christ the King) in 1971. He entered Maryknoll the following year and earned masters degrees in divinity and theology at Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining (1977).

Father Cleary will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, May 21, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 73 Adam St., Tonawanda, at 11 a.m.   

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