Father John Joseph Byrnes, O.S.A.
Father John Joseph Byrnes, O.S.A.

Father John Joseph Byrnes, O.S.A., 94, died on May 8 of natural causes in the 70th year of his religious profession. Among his many priestly assignments, Father Byrnes served the parish communities of St. Augustine’s Church in Troy (1978) and St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Waterford (1983-1997) for 14 years.

Father Byrnes was born on March 20, 1926, in Milton, Mass., the son of Thomas N. Byrnes and Mary McGill. He had two brothers and three sisters. He was baptized on April 18, 1926, at Sacred Heart Church in Quincy, Mass., and attended Francis Parker Grammar School and North Quincy High School. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1944-46, after which he attended the School of Saint Philip Neri for Delayed Vocations for one year. He then enrolled at Augustinian Academy on Staten Island, as a postulant, and was received into the Order as a novice on Sept. 9, 1948. Following formation at Good Counsel Novitiate in New Hamburg, Father Byrnes professed simple vows on Sept. 10, 1949.

He attended Villanova College and received his bachelor of arts in philosophy in 1952, after which he was assigned to Augustinian College in Washington, D.C., for theological studies for the next four years. While there he also received a master of arts in geography from the Catholic University of America in 1956. Father Byrnes professed solemn vows on Sept. 10, 1952 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1955, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., by Bishop John McNamara.

Father Byrnes was assigned to teach at Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., from 1956-65. In 1964, he received a master of arts in education from Villanova University. From 1965-68, he was assigned to Saint Mary’s Hall, the Augustinian Collegiate Formation House at Villanova, where he served as procurator and teacher. From 1968-71, he was a member of Saint Thomas Monastery and served as the director of the Seminary Guild and director of the Augustinian Seculars. In 1971, he became a member of the preaching staff at Mount Augustine Retreat House on Staten Island but returned to Villanova University in 1973 as Dean of Students and dorm prefect while a member of Saint Thomas Monastery. Following his brief assignment at St. Augustine Parish in Troy, he was appointed pastor of St. Laurence O’Toole Parish in Lawrence, Mass. From 1980-82, he was pastor of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in the Bronx, and in 1982-83, was pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Lawrence, Mass. From 1983-97, he served at St. Mary of Assumption Parish in Waterford. He then served at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Dania Beach, Fla, (1997-98). Father Byrnes was assigned to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Philadelphia in 1998 as associate pastor and served there until May 2016, when, at the age of 90, he retired to St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery.

Father Byrnes was an affable friar, a zealous priest, a loyal advocate for the pro-life movement and a devoted son of the Blessed Mother. Shortly before his death, he continued to be an active member of the monastery community until debilitating health kept him confined to the community health-care facility.