Fr. Malcolm MacDonell
Father MacDonell died at St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish, on July 25, 2015. An exemplary priest and academic of the Diocese of Antigonish, Fr. MacDonell was born January 15, 1919, in Hillsdale, Inverness County, NS, a son of the late William and Sarah (MacEachern) MacDonell. He received his early education at St. Ninian School and Port Hood Academy before enrolling at St. Francis Xavier University from which he graduated with honors in 1938. Fr. MacDonell received his theological training at St. Basil Cemetery, Toronto, where he was ordained on May 26, 1945, by Most Reverend Ildebrando Antoniutti, Apostolic Delegate to Canada. He was awarded a Master of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in 1945 and later did further studies at Queen’s University and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. In 1959 he combined post-graduate work with an appointment as Rector of St. Pius X Seminary in Ottawa. His tenure as a teacher and administrator at St. FX, however, was where his ministry as a priest was exercised to the fullest. He joined the faculty of St. FX after his ordination as a member of the history department and taught until 1964 when he was appointed Dean of Arts. As Dean he was instrumental in bringing about curriculum changes in the Faculty of Arts, making the program a more flexible and adaptable curriculum. In 1970 Fr. MacDonell was appointed President of St. FX and remained in that position for eight years. He led the university through some of its most difficult years when student dissent disrupted the campus and government economics made grants to universitie smore difficult to acquire. His personal relationship with students, parents, staff, and visitors helped to maintain and enhance the university’s reputation for the warm hospitality and personal interest in staff and students. He was one of only two Churchmen appointed by the federal government to the Canadian Centennial Conference; was chairman of the Association of Atlantic Universities; was a founding member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. He was a recipient of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, was awarded Doctor of Laws degrees from St. Thomas, St. FX, and Memorial universities, and received a Doctor of Letters degree from the University College of Cape Breton. Throughout his life Fr. MacDonell maintained a love for and interest in the Gaelic language, the medium of some of his finest and most humorous oratory.
Besides his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Alex; sister, Annie Gillis, and two brothers in infancy. He is survived by four sisters: Sister Margaret, CND, Sydney; Mary Boyd, Jessie Murphy, and Elizabeth, all of Michigan; sister-in-law, Theresa, Judique, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral mass was celebrated Thursday, July 30 in St. Andrew’s Church, Judique.