Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas


Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

Gary MacEoin: NCR contributor
by Jerry Filteau
Catholic Writer and Advocate of the Poor

Gary MacEoin

July 15, 2003

Catholic News Service

The members of the ICSSA are truly fortunate to have had the 
pleasure, of an inperson presentation by such a distinguished,
articulate, and noble gentleman.  LPKelley - President

"Take a good look now, for when I'm gone it 
will be a long time before you see 
the likes of me again"  by ???

WASHINGTON - Gary MacEoin, a prolific Catholic journalist and author, 
expert on Latin America, human rights activist and advocate of the 
poor, died of a heart attack July 9 in Leesburg, Va. He was 94.

MacEoin's home was in San Antonio for many years, but he died at a 
rehabilita­tion center connected to Cornwall Hospital in Leesburg, 
where he had been recovering from a concussion and a stroke suffered 
in May.
An often acerbic critic of U.S. policies in the Third World and of 
church leaders who failed to match his passion for social justice,  
MacEoin wrote more than 25 books, including two sets of memoirs.
While Latin America was his specialty, he also wrote extensively on 
the Catholic Church and on a wide range of other subjects, 
including Northern Ireland.

MacEoin was a founder of the sanctuary movement, through which some 
U.S. churches in the 1980s provided shelter to refugees who 
illegally entered the United States to escape the violence in Central 

His involvement in Catholic journalism spanned seven decades, from 
the 1940s, when he was editor for the Port-of-Spain Gazette in 
Trinidad and a Caribbean correspondent for Catholic News Service 
(then the National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service), to the 
2000s, when he continued to travel and write regularly for the 
National Catholic Reporter, based in Kansas City, Mo.

Thomas Quigley, adviser on Latin American affairs for the U.S. 
Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "I always thought of him as 
the dean of American Catholic writers on Latin America.... He was 
a real student of the area."
As a journalist MacEoin covered the Second Vatican Council in the 
early 1960s, and in 1968 covered the meeting of Latin American 
bishops in Medellin, Colombia, at which the bishops declared the 
church's "preferential option for the poor."
In a tribute written for the July 18 issue of NCR, Editor Tom 
Roberts said, "If a publication can have a grandfather, then Gary 
MacEoin was that to NCR."  He called MacEoin " an insatiable 
intellect and inveterate social reformer, a scholar and writer, an 
activist and believer, an Irish countenance with an actual 
eye-twinkle and a lilt in the voice that stayed with him to the 
last of his 94 years."

MacEoin's relationship with NCR went back to its beginnings in 
the 1960s. Gary Johnson was born June 12, 1909, in Curry, County 
Sligo, Ireland. He adopted the Gaelic form of his last name, 
MacEoin (son of John), years later.  He entered the seminary at 
age 18, planning to become a Redemptorist priest. In his memoirs 
he said he was informed three weeks before ordination that he 
would not be ordained - and was never given an explanation despite 
appeals to the order's superior general and to Rome.

Over the next decade he earned a reputation in Dublin as an able 
writer and editor and earned a doctorate in Spanish. He also became 
a member of the Irish bar.  In 1944 he left Ireland to become editor 
of the Port-of-Spain Gazette in Trinidad. In 1949 he moved to New 
York, where he was editor of La Prensa and La Hacienda.  While 
covering Vatican II for Life en Espaņol, he collaborated with 
Redemptorist Father Francis X. Murphy on "What Happened in Rome" and 
other publications about the council. The Redemptorist was the 
then-secret author of the famous Xavier Rynne letters on the council 
that appeared in The New Yorker.

Among MacEoin's books: Latin America: The Eleventh Hour in 1962, 
Revolution Next Door in 197l, No Peaceful Way: The Chilean Struggle 
for Dignity in 1974, Central America's Options: Death or Life in 1988 
and The People's Church. Samuel Ruiz of Mexico and Why He Matters 
in 1996.  His first book was Cervantes, published in 1950. His last 
was The Papacy and the People of God in 1998. He regarded his first 
memoir, Nothing Is Quite Enough in 1953, as his most important book. 
His second, Memoirs and Memories, appeared in 1986.

MacEoin's wife, Josephine, died in 1986. He is survived by his son 
and daughter-in-law, Don and Brenda MacEoin, and their three children; 
step-daughter Kristina Jackson and her four children; and three sisters.  
MacEoin was the subject of a profile article in the Nov. 3, 2000, 
edition of Today's Catholic..