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Rev. Malachy John Clune, OP

Deceased: 2016-10-17


ICTE Spring: 2001

By Br Albert Elias Roberston, O.P. | Br Albert remembers Fr John Malachy Clune, O.P., a friar he cared for as a novice and who died shortly after Br Albert’s profession.

The only brother I have ever really known personally and who has died since my being in the Order is Fr John Malachy Clune who died on October  17, 2016, just after I’d made my Simple Profession. Fr John was in the priory in Cambridge for almost all of my noviciate, leaving just before my Simple Profession to go to residential care.

Fr John was a man of mystery. There are always stories told about the older brethren, but those connected with Fr John always seemed slightly more enigmatic: meetings with the provincial arranged, but never actually taking place; letters sent, but no reply received. But we did know some things for sure: we knew that he had spent a long time working for the Apostleship of the Sea in the Caribbean and around Latin America, and we knew that he had worked to build cultural centres, schools, and even a hospital through extensive fundraising campaigns, but other than this we didn’t know very much else. Part of this was because of his dementia, with his memory gradually deteriorating over the course of the year, it became almost impossible to ask him anything about his past. One thing stood out; the picture of him meeting St John Paul II which stood proudly in the middle of his mantlepiece, the sign of a long, active, and fruitful priestly ministry.

Why did I want to write about him, rather than others? After all, I don’t have much to tell you about him, because we don’t know all that much about him. Part of it I suppose is about the personal connection: he is the first brother who I have cared for in the Order who has died. I cooked the lunch for the party we had for his sixtieth anniversary of vows, I brought him his lunch when he could no longer get to the refectory, I took him tea and sat with him in his room, and I washed his clothes. I pray for him every day, because it’s very difficult to do these things for someone and then forget them. So I suppose in some ways, that’s the real reason I chose to write about him: I still remember him and pray for him because the Order brought us together. No matter how curiously one lives the life of a Dominican friar, no matter how mysterious or enigmatic a friar is, in the end we are brothers and we care for each other to the end. I pray that at the last, when I see him again, I might finally get the full story of his life.