Jesuit Father Francis V. Rooney died on Dec. 5, 2013, at Murray-Weigel Hall in Bronx, N.Y. Born on May 13, 1929, he was 84 years old, a Jesuit for 66 years and a priest for 53 years.
Fr. Rooney was born in Jackson Heights in Queens, N.Y., of Eugene and Anna (Hand) Rooney. After graduation from Regis High School in 1946 and one year of college at Fordham University (1946-47), he followed his older brother Eugene into the Jesuits and entered the novitiate of St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on September 7, 1947. Following his novitiate and collegiate studies there, he was assigned to the study of philosophy and science at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. (1951-54), earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1954.
Before the study of theology he taught Latin and math at Brooklyn Prep for one year (1954-55) and then taught the same subjects at Xavier High School from 1955 to 1957. From 1957 to 1961 he studied theology in preparation for the priesthood at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md. He was ordained a priest at the Fordham University Chapel on June 18, 1960. His last year of spiritual formation, tertianship, took him to Port Townsend, Wash. (1961-62). With his knowledge of Spanish, and always hoping to be a missionary, as a priest he taught science first at San Ildefonso Seminary in Aibonito, Puerto Rico (1962-67) and then again at Colegio San Ignacio in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, until 1970. In that year he began graduate studies in biology at the Catholic University of America. He gained his Ph.D. in biology in 1974, and taught biology first at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Mo., and then at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, N.J.
The year 1977 marked a major shift in his priestly ministry, from the classroom to the counselor’s office. For a number of years he served as a chaplain in a variety of hospital settings in New York City and New York State. He took the time to study the disease of alcohol addiction in a professional way, as well as gain the skills to counsel those with alcoholism. From 1989 to 1996 he lived at the Jesuit Community at Murray-Weigel Hall while counseling at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. For two years (1997-99) he ministered as alcoholism/substance abuse counselor in Albany, N.Y., while residing at the Jesuit community at Auriesville.
In the year 2000 he moved south to Murray-Weigel Hall and served as a chaplain at Coler/Goldwater Hospital until 2004. He continued to reside at Murray-Weigel Hall and assisted both in the community and with local ministries until ill health led to his retirement in 2012. In his many years as a chaplain, in addition to reaching out to the most needy, he assisted many priests. His knowledge of Spanish enabled him to minister effectively in Puerto Rico and in New York.
Fr. Rooney is survived by two brothers who are also Jesuit priests: Jesuit Fathers Eugene Rooney and Joseph Rooney.