Fr Paul O’Malley was born in the Germantown neighbourhood of Clinton, Massachusetts, the second son of Walter and Lillian (Kappel) O’Malley.
His mother was a member of the German Congregationalist Church while his father’s background was that of Irish Catholicism.
Paul’s home parish was St John the Evangelist, though he attended local public schools and graduated from Clinton High School in 1944.
He then completed two semesters at Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, before being drafted into the US Navy during World War II. During the following two years he served in the South Pacific – Okinawa, Guam and Pearl Harbour – until he was honourably discharged in 1946.
Paul returned to Holy Cross College and graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in History. He then entered State Teachers College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where he graduated in June of 1950 with a Master of Education degree. From 1950 – 1952 he taught in the Boston Public Schools.
During his college years and later when teaching, Paul served as a counsellor at Camp Cedar Crest in Green Harbour, Massachusetts. It was there that he first encountered Columban seminarians, whose pleasant personalities and sense of humour made a deep impression on him. These encounters awakened his interest in studying for the priesthood.
As a first step, he attended the School of St Philip Neri, which provided a one-year programme in Latin and other courses to prepare late vocations for entering seminaries.
Then, in September 1953, he entered the Columban Spiritual Year programme at Bristol, Rhode Island. Having already studied philosophy at Holy Cross College, the following year he began his studies in theology in Milton, Massachusetts.
Paul was ordained on December 21, 1957 at St Columban Major Seminary by Bishop Jeremiah Minihan.
In the fall of 1958, he was assigned to the Philippines, where he spent the next thirteen years in the Prelature of Iba, Zambales.
His first assignment was to St James Parish, Subic City (1958 – 1961). He then moved to Olongapo City where he was the first Pastor of St Columban Parish as well as the Assistant Director of Columban College (1962 – 1964).
Following that, he was an associate to Fr Kieran Heneghan at St Michael the Archangel Parish, Santa Cruz (1965 – 1967). During the next two years he was pastor at Holy Infant Parish, San Antonio. Paul’s last assignment in Zambales was as pastor of St James Parish, Subic City (1970 – 1971).
A stint in vocation ministry in the US Region (1969 – 1970) led Paul to be assigned back home a short time later (1971).
From 1972 – 1974 he was engaged in mission education and promotion work at St Columban’s Retreat House, Derby, New York.
From 1974, Paul began a series of renewal programmes, starting with Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Boston City Hospital, and continuing with studies at St John Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts and later at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge Massachusetts.
He then returned to the Philippines where he was engaged – alongside his classmate, Vic Gaboury – in pastoral education at Makati Medical Centre in Manila.
In 1977, Paul returned to the United States, where he joined Columbans, Bob Conley and Jim O’Brien, in team ministry at SS Peter & Paul Parish in Norwich, Connecticut.
There, he relished the opportunity to minister to parishioners from a wide variety of ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.
He also put his CPE training to use in the development of a parish program for the sick and elderly, as well as in his regular ministry at nearby hospitals, including Uncas on Thames Hospital for the terminally ill.
Upon leaving that parish in 1983, Paul became pastor to the Filipino community at St Columban Church in Los Angeles, where he remained until March 1987.
Participation in a three-month Columban renewal course in Baguio City, Philippines, led Paul to express an interest in going to the new Columban mission in Jamaica, West Indies.
In April 1987, he took up an appointment in the Diocese of Montego Bay, ministering for the first five years in Holy Name Parish in Bamboo, St Ann, and the following two years at SS Philip & James Parish, Lucea, Hanover.
Rheumatoid arthritis led him to receive treatment in Los Angeles in 1992, and to his re-assignment back to the US Region in 1994, where he assisted Columban, Bob Conley, at St Columban Church in Los Angeles for a year.
From there he moved to senior housing in his hometown of Clinton, Massachusetts, where he was close to his brother, Walter, as well as relatives and friends.
During the years that followed, he assisted with parish ministry, did Columban mission appeals, and engaged in outreach to benefactors, including the LAOH. He was also a frequent visitor to the Columban Retirement Home in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Then, around his eightieth birthday, Paul moved into the Columban Retirement Home, though he continued to maintain close contact with the people of Clinton.
Indeed, throughout his life, Paul nurtured and sustained friendships with many people in all the places he lived. His warm and caring nature as well as his sense of humour endeared him to all who crossed his path, and he found great joy in facilitating others in putting their gifts at the service of God and their community.
Paul is mourned by his brother, Walter ‘Miz’ O’Malley & wife Teresa, his niece Maureen Banks, nephew, Kevin O’Malley, the Columban community, as well as a large circle of long-time and newly-made friends.
May Paul rest now in the peace of Christ to whom he devoted his life.