Vincent MacNamara was born to George MacNamara and his wife Brigid (née O’Reilly) of Clara, Co Offaly on the 4th of April, 1930. He was one of a family of five boys. He attended Clara National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar. He came to Kiltegan in September, 1948, for his spiritual year. Next, he went to St Patrick’s, Douglas, and studied in University College, Cork. Three years later, he graduated with a BA degree and went back to Kiltegan for his Theology studies. He was ordained on Easter Sunday, the 1st of April, 1956, in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Bishop of Nancheng, China.
After ordination Vincent was sent to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to pursue a Doctorate in Canon Law (DCL). Part of his study involved course work at the Angelicum University in Rome. He was awarded a DCL in 1959. He was appointed to the staff of St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, in September 1959. He was Dean from 1959 to 1962. After the 1962 Chapter he was appointed Rector and remained in that post until June 1969. He was then appointed to Rome to serve as Procurator General of the Society. During his time in Rome he pursued studies in Moral Theology at the Gregorian University graduating with the Gold Medal in June 1971. He returned to Kiltegan where he resumed his teaching career. He also taught in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, during the 1970s. Despite his hectic schedule he found time to gain a D.Phil from Oxford University.
In 1978 Vincent was elected a member of the Central Leadership Team of the Society and lived at Kiltegan. In 1984 he was elected Vicar General of the Society. In 1990 he moved to the newly acquired Society house at Leeson Park in Dublin where he lived for the next twenty-seven years. He returned to teaching full-time. He was a founding member of the Kimmage Mission Institute and served as its president for one term. He also lectured at Milltown Park and at Trinity College, Dublin.
Vincent was a very gifted theologian and a frequent contributor to various periodicals on theological matters. He published a number of books including The Truth in Love, The Call to be Human and New Life for Old. He was acknowledged by his peers as an outstanding thinker and writer. He always wrote with elegance and style. Vincent was a humble and modest man who stayed far away from the limelight. He had a very significant influence on the history of the Society as he taught every priest who was ordained for the Society between 1960 and 1999. As Rector he ensured that seminary training made a smooth transition from the traditional model to one more in keeping with the Second Vatican Council. In leadership roles, he helped steer the Society away from rigour and inflexibility towards freedom and personal responsibility.
Vincent had a great love of gardening and always worked hard to make his surroundings more beautiful. He played a central role in designing and landscaping the Kiltegan grounds during the 1960s. He also had a deep appreciation of music.
Vincent’s health was less than robust for most of his life. He was never able to take up an appointment on the “missions”. However he was totally dedicated to the work of the Society and gave great encouragement and moral support to fellow members, especially those working in difficult and testing missions. His health deteriorated considerably during the last year. He died peacefully on the morning of Friday, the 14th of July.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan