Msgr. John A. Meaney, CNEWA’s Regional Director in Beirut from 1978 through 1984, died on 14 February in the Cayman Islands. He was 86.
Before he joined CNEWA, Meaney had served in the Caribbean as Regional Director for the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies. When Msgr. Richard Mahowald, then Director of CNEWA’s Rome office, invited Msgr. Meaney to take charge of CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission, Msgr. Meaney said: “I don’t speak Arabic, and I know nothing about Arabs and very little about the Middle East.”
Msgr. Meaney proved to be a fast learner. He arrived in Lebanon at a particularly dangerous time. Israel had invaded the south and Syria had attacked eastern Beirut, displacing some 60,000 families. He organized relief efforts that distributed food, clothing and medical supplies. He was also instrumental in rebuilding schools, hospitals and housing facilities. Although based in Beirut, Meaney also reviewed operations in Amman and Jerusalem.
He was known for his fundraising skills and his compassion for the suffering children of Lebanon.
John Andrew Meaney was born in County Clare, Ireland, on 24 July 1915. He graduated from University College in Dublin in 1940 and received a master’s degree in English from New York University in 1952. He studied at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome from 1956 to 1960, and was ordained on 2 April 1960 for the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica.
After ordination he was appointed headmaster of St. Mary’s College in Jamaica, 1960-1965. He served as pastor of St. Ignatius Parish on Grand Cayman from 1984 to 1995, when he retired. He was named a domestic prelate in 1974. Burial took place in Ireland.