FOREVER FRIARS: Remembering Fr. Roderick Malachy Dooley, O.P. (1919-2002)

By Will Potter, Chicago Tribune staff reporter (originally published on June 18, 2002)

Rev. R. Malachy Dooley, 82, was at nearly every wedding, funeral, baptism and party involving alumni of Fenwick High School. His giving spirit – from remembering the anniversaries of couples he married to taking friends on tours of Ireland – made him a cornerstone of the Fenwick community.

“Everyone thinks of him as their best friend,” said Bill Stein, a former student [Class of ’53, now deceased] and longtime friend. “And he thought of everyone as his best friend. Asking for nothing and giving everything, that was him.”

The late Professor Peter Bagnolo, a former student, painted this watercolor, which hangs in Fenwick’s 4th-floor (priory) Dooley Conference Room.

Father Dooley, a Dominican friar for 60 years and a teacher and fundraiser for Fenwick High School in Oak Park, died Saturday, June 15, of cancer in his home in the Dominican Priory of River Forest.

Father Dooley was born in Minneapolis. He started at Fenwick in 1950 as a theology teacher. When administrators asked him in the early 1950s to head fundraising projects for the school, he threw himself into the new task.

In the 1950s Father Dooley raised more than $1million for Fenwick’s first capital campaign that resulted in construction of the west wing, including an auditorium and classrooms. In the 1980s he raised more than $3 million for science laboratories and an endowment fund, and in the 1990s he raised $10 million for an athletics field house and pool.

Although quite a successful raiser of funds, the bespectacled Fr. Dooley did not like asking for money.

From 1963 to 1973, Father Dooley was assigned to St. Pius V parish in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, St. Anthony Parish in New Orleans and Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. He then returned to his work at Fenwick.

Father Dooley did not like asking for money and, in fact, he rarely did, said Leo Latz [Fenwick Class of ’76], a former assistant and longtime friend. He didn’t have to.

“People give to things they feel connected to,” Latz said. “Dooley got legions of people to be connected or reconnected to the school. He had a gift of creating community and connecting people to their alma mater and reminding them of why they should be grateful. He has been the common denominator in Fenwick’s success in the last 50 years.”

He was awarded the [inaugural) Lumen Tranquillum, or Quiet Light, award by the school in November.

2 Replies to “FOREVER FRIARS: Remembering Fr. Roderick Malachy Dooley, O.P. (1919-2002)”

  1. I was a member of the class of ‘55. I was fortunate enough to have Fr Dooley both as a religious teacher and a mentor. My mom passed away in May 1950 knowing this he kept his eye on me. As an adult I was fortunate enough to have a successful career in the Pharmaceutical business. Fr Dooley took delight in watching his former Friars do well in business. Fellow Friar Dave Collins held a senior executive management position at Johnson & Johnson during the Tylenol tampering affair and Dave was key in managing it. Fr Dooley commented on the role Dave played. Early in my career I was in charge of the Metamucil Brand while at G D Searle & Co. Later on as President of a subsidiary company of Sandoz/Novartis I managed the Ex Lax laxative Brand. Fr Dooley would often kid me about my exploits in business he was a Dominican not to be for gotten.

  2. Malachi was one of a kind. Always there to be of help in any way. When I was at Fenwick as Director of Development, he was more than generous with his time. We made over a hundred call together and had the most successful fundraising to date. When came before the board they asked me what I thought we could raise and I responded, $15 mil.
    They all laughed and said their last Annual drive raised only $500,000. Malachi was their and he wasn’t laughing. The board settled for $6 mil and we had that goal met on opening day. Thanks Malachi for your help and willingness to accompany me on all our calls.

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