by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Fr Noel Delaney, SM, died in Wellington on February 13. He was 93. Fr Delaney was ordained in 1942 and worked in a number of the Society of Mary’s schools before being appointed the second rector of Hato Paora College in 1965.
Born in Nuhaka, Hawke’s Bay, on October 12, 1922, Fr Delaney was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Wairoa.
He attended St Pat’s Silverstream from 1935 to 1940. His memories of college include; playing by the river, being “clapped” up each morning for ranks, and the steam train journey to Wairoa.
Excelling at music, English and athletics, he was captain of the McEvedy Shield-winning team in 1940. As captain, he accepted the shield from the then prime minister Peter Fraser.
In the same year he became head boy and stayed on an extra year to complete his studies in Latin to prepare himself for the seminary.
In 1941, he began his studies towards the Marist priesthood at Highden Novitiate, Feilding, continuing on at Greenmeadows Seminary, at Taradale.
His first appointment was to St Bede’s in 1949, where he also began studies in English part-time at university. In 1950, he was transferred to Hato Paora College, where he embraced Maori culture, in particular the education of Maori youth.
This mirrored in some respects the early work of Marists in New Zealand. Historian Michael King, in his book Being Pakeha, described Fr Delaney as one of the best teachers of English he ever had.
In 1964, Fr Delaney held a brief appointment at St John’s College, until he became rector of Hato Paora College in 1965.
In 1973, Fr Delaney was appointed vicar-provincial of the Society of Mary in New Zealand. He also continued his work with Maori and Pasifika people when he was appointed vicar espsciplo in Wellington.
In 1975, Fr Delaney became provincial of the society in New Zealand, being responsible for 300 various Marists here and around the world.
During this time he was involved in the relocation of St Pat’s Town to its present site in Evans Bay, until his term ended in 1981.
Over the following 10 years Fr Delaney’s appointments included chaplain, Fribourg, Switzerland; lector, Greenmeadows Seminary; master, novitiates, Highden; Marist Archives; parish priest St Mary’s, Taradale; assistant parish priest Wairoa; superior of the Marist community, Hataitai; finally returning to Silverstream in 1997. Upon the withdrawal of Marists in 2000, Fr Delaney became chaplain for the Home of Compassion in Silverstream, moving to the Marist Community at Marian Court in 2002.