Francis Joseph Feeley was born in New York Hospital in Manhattan on February 7, 1937 on East 88th St.. As he liked to say, "I grew up on the Upper East Side!" He was the youngest of the six children of Catherine McNicholas, a homemaker, and Patrick Feeley, a railroad engineer. Both his parents had immigrated into the United States from County Mayo in Ireland.
While his older siblings were either in school or working, Francis was well cared for after school hours by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal who taught in the St. Jean Baptiste parish school. Frank treasured the memory of that experience and kept in touch with those Sisters, always remembering them with great affection.
After his graduation, he worked at D'Agostino's Grocery Store and then in the purchasing department at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Francis said that one day, while reading in the Sacred Heart Messenger about the Holy Cross Brothers, he was inspired to send a note to Brother Edward (then Hyacinth) Sniatecki. He said that he received a response almost immediately, and on June 16, 1957, at the age of 20, he found himself at Valatie, New York to begin his formation. He was received as a novice on August 15, 1957 in Rolling Prairie, Indiana.
Brother Francis began teaching at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island. After three years at there, Brother Francis was transferred to Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Connecticut, where he served in ministry for thirty-five years. In those years he taught a variety of subjects including religion, business, typing and Spanish. He worked in the Treasurer's Office as the Assistant Bookkeeper. He was moderator of the Mothers' Club and Parents' Association. Recognized as one of the legends of Notre Dame High School in West Haven because of his generous service over his long tenure of 35 years, Brother Francis was honored by being named a Knight of Honor by the school.
In January of 1998, he became the Director of St. Joseph Center in Valatie, New York, the province's residence for its older Brothers. In 2012, he retired from active ministry and continued to be a resident and active member of the local community.
Brother Francis was a welcoming presence and had a warm, kind and sincere smile. He had high expectations for his students and could put on a good show with a bellowing voice when they turned rambunctious. It was a convincing act and an effective ploy to bring some calm back to his charges. He was interested in his students and their lives, remembering their birthdays and families. If anyone asked him to pray for them or for a special intention, he never forgot – and they never got off the list, which he would read every day at Mass.
Brother Francis certainly appreciated and loved those whom God put in his care to serve. He treated them kindly and challenged them strongly to be their best. Early on in life he learned the value of being shown kindness, care, and safe refuge by the sisters, and passed that on to all he met. We thank God for his presence among us, and rest assured that he is held in the loving embrace of our God who loves us.
There will be a closed funeral liturgy at St. Joseph Center in Valatie, NY in keeping with current safety guidelines. Burial will follow in St. Joseph of Holy Cross cemetery on the grounds. A public memorial Mass will be held once that is possible for Francis and all those who have died during the pandemic. May this good man rest in peace.