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Rev. John J. McEleney, S.J., former Rector at the Jesuit Novitiate at Shadowbrook, was appointed Rector of the soon-to-be incorporated Fairfield College of St. Robert Bellarmine on March 3, 1942. Two weeks later in Pomfret, Connecticut, on the feast of St. Patrick, Father McEleney and six of his Jesuit brothers drew up Articles of Association and By-Laws which officially established an institutional entity for both high school and college-level education. Father McEleney is honored as the first Rector of Fairfield College and Preparatory School and the first President of Fairfield University.


The Rev. John J. McEleney, S.J. was born in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1895. He was educated at Boston College, receiving an A.B. in 1918 and an A.M. in 1924. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1918. From 1924 to 1927, he was a language professor at the Ateneo de Manila in the Philippines. After being ordained in 1930, he served as assistant master of novices at Shadowbrook, in Lenox, Massachusetts from 1931 until 1934 and then returned to that post after a year studying ascetical theology in North Wales in the United Kingdom. In 1937, he received a Ph.D. from the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. He became the first rector of the newly-opened Fairfield College and Preparatory School and the first president of Fairfield University in 1942. He stayed at Fairfield until 1944, when he was appointed the Provincial of the New England Jesuit Province. Then in 1950 Pope Pius XII appointed him Bishop and Vicar Apostolic of Jamaica, British West Indies. In 1956, the Jamaica mission was elevated to diocese and Bishop McEleney became the first bishop, and then the first archbishop, when the archdiocese was created on August 15, 1956. He continued to serve in that position until his retirement in 1970. Image date is approximate.


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