FATHER EUGENE J. DONNELLY, A. B., A. M.
It is with pleasure that we recount the experiences of this worthy gentleman, who is one of the most popular ministers in the City of Flushing, his frank, pleasing countenance and personal magnetism drawing people to him. As a pastor he gets very near to his people, and has ever sought to develop the highest type of social life of the church. He was born in Brooklyn, October 26, 1852, to the marriage of Owen and Ann (O’Brien) Donnelly. About the year 1835 the father located in Brooklyn and resided there until his death, when seventy-two years old. He was one of the fourteenth ward leaders and was an influential Democratic politician. The mother now resides in Brooklyn. Of the six children born to this estimable couple, four are living at the present time, three sons and one daughter: Bernard, foreman of the fire department in Brooklyn; Mary, now Mrs. Crawford, and John P., an attorney, both of whom also reside in Brooklyn.
Father Donnelly attended public school No. 17, then under Mr. Woodworth, the first principal of the school. When thirteen years old he completed the entire course there, and in September, 1866, entered St. Francis Xavier College in New York City. From this college he graduated with high honors in 1872, when, wishing to become a priest, he repaired to Rome and entered the American College, where he remained five years. While in Rome he attended the lectures of the celebrated Propaganda College, having as classmates representatives of all the nations of the world. Having completed the theological course, he passed a brilliant examination and was ordained in the Church of St. John Lateran, May 26, 1877. Previous to his return home, for four months he traveled extensively through Italy, France, Belgium, Wales, England and Ireland. On his arrival in his native land he was sent to Flushing.
Father Donnelly is a fine linguist and is professor of Latin in St. Joseph’s Academy for young ladies in Flushing. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish and Italian are languages with which he is familiar, while Spanish and Italian he speaks as fluently as a native. The church in Flushing, which is of gothic design, was repaired and handsomely and artistically decorated under his direction and immediate supervision. The work was by Lyons, of Brooklyn. Father Donnelly is passionately fond of music and is always present when it can be enjoyed in Flushing. He is himself a musician and possesses a sweet tenor voice of great compass. Through his efforts the church has a fine new organ worth $3,000, and has been noted for its music since he took charge. He is at the head of the St. Michael’s Parochial School, although he does not teach there. That he is charitable and good, many a poor family in Flushing can attest, and he never turns a deaf ear to those in want.
The congregation is now very large, numbering about three thousand, and there are three Masses on Sunday. The societies of the church are as follows: Holy Rosary, Altar, St. Vincent De Paul, Sacred Heart and the Catholic Benevolent Legion. Father Donnelly is a member of the Alumni of St. Francis Xavier College and the Alumni of the American College of Rome. A few years ago he visited Cuba for his health and 1895 took a trip to Europe, visiting Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Scotland and Ireland. He has a select library of over two thousand volumes and has a valuable cabinet of relics gathered from all parts of the earth. With a pleasing address, a fine presence, a rich and musical voice, a clear head and generous heart, he has succeeded in his calling and has reached a prominent position in his church.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Queens County, Long Island, New York, Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County (New York: Chapman Publishing Co., 1896), 185-186.
Father Donnelly was later named a Monsignor. He spent his entire priesthood at St. Michael’s in Flushing, until his death in 1933.