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Rev Fr James Francis Cunningham
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Birth: Sep. 26, 1901
Fairfield County
Connecticut, USA
Death: Jul. 17, 1994
Wilton Manors
Broward County
Florida, USA

Father James Cunningham, CSP, was born on September 26, 1901 in Danbury, Connecticut. He attended local parochial schools and became a licensed pharmacist. His brother William recalled at the time of his death that "he was going to build his own drug store. But within a two year period he decided to become a priest." So he entered the Paulist community in 1923, making his profession on May 14, 1928. He was ordained a Catholic priest with classmate George Johnson on June 10, 1930.

Father Cunningham's first years as a priest were spent in Los Angeles where he directed the Newman Center and was active in the Labor Union Movement. In 1934 he returned to New York for parish work. In 1936 he went to Tennessee to join the trailer missions in the rural South.

When World War II began, Father Cunningham became a Navy chaplain. He served in Panama, Puerto Rico and on board the battleship the U.S.S. South Dakota. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service.

After the war he returned to Los Angeles prior to being elected the tenth Superior General of the Paulists in 1946. During his eventful six year term, foundations were opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in Baltimore. The Paulist Information Center in Boston was constructed, the minor seminary in Maryland was completed, and the magazines Information and Guide were launched.

When his term ended in 1952 Father Cunningham was named Rector of Santa Susanna's parish for American Catholics in Rome, the happiest assignment of his long career. In Rome he continued his military work as a chaplain to U.S. forces in Italy, taught at the North American College and was an early member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity.

In 1966 Doubleday published a book by Father Cunningham describing his years in Italy with the title, "American Pastor in Rome." The press release reports that "he met virtually every important American to visit Rome. He was the intimate friend of three Popes. During his appointment as Pastor of the American church of Santa Susanna, his accomplishments included everything from arranging the adoption of illegitimate children to the procurement of ice cream for a closed order of nuns [...] His book is full of many fascinating anecdotes, some amusing, some sad about the people he met, befriended, and helped and of his various charitable programs. And woven throughout are Father Cunningham's personal observations on those ever intriguing and enigmatic subjects -- Rome and the Romans themselves."

He returned to the U.S. in 1964 as pastor of Old Saint Mary's parish in Chicago, becoming a well-known figure there as well as a confidant of Mayor Daley and Cardinal Cody.

From 1970 to 1974 Father Cunningham served as an associate pastor at Saint Clement's parish in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and spent the rest of the decade in Paulist foundations in New York and Chicago. He retired from the active ministry in 1980, living in Florida until his death on July 17, 1994. He was 92 years old, and had served for 63 years as a Paulist priest.

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery
Fort Lauderdale
Broward County
Florida, USA
Created by: Paulist Archives
Record added: Aug 17, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 95482494
Rev Fr James Francis Cunningham
Added by: Bobbi Lynn
Rev Fr James Francis Cunningham
Added by: Paulist Archives
Rev Fr James Francis Cunningham
Added by: Paulist Archives
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- Edmund
 Added: Aug. 14, 2014
Rest In Peace, Father James!
- Eman Bonnici
 Added: Nov. 1, 2012

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