The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Former Subiaco headmaster, math teacher dies

Published: December 1, 2017   

Father Timothy Donnelly, OSB, a monk and priest at Subiaco Abbey for more than 50 years, died Nov. 23. He was 77.

Born Patrick Joseph Donnelly on Jan. 11, 1940, in San Antonio, Texas, he was the second oldest of five children in an Irish Catholic family. He went through Catholic education growing up in Tulsa, Okla.

Father Donnelly told Arkansas Catholic in 2015 that he “had always wanted to be a priest.” He graduated from Subiaco Academy in 1957, the fifth highest in his class, and entered Subiaco Abbey in the fall of 1958. He professed his vows Sept. 8, 1959, and in 1965 was ordained to the priesthood.

Father Donnelly had a heart for academia, serving as a teacher and dean at Subiaco Academy for 10 years, starting in 1965. He went on to serve as religious coordinator, academic dean and as Subiaco Academy headmaster from 1995 to 1998. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1971, he took college summer and night classes. At the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, he spent two years in graduate studies and teaching, earning his master’s degree in math and education. Though he taught math, he said “one doesn’t just teach subject matter; they teach life and values,” he said in 2015.

From 2000-2002, he also served as a teacher and assistant chaplain at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. He then came back to Subiaco Academy as academic dean until he was assigned as pastor in 2009 of St. Michael Church in Van Buren and sacramental minister of Our Lady of the Ozarks Shrine in Winslow.

At the abbey, Father Donnelly held several positions throughout the years, including retreat master at the Coury House and subprior of Subiaco Abbey for three years.

According to the abbey, he had a “quick wit. He was never one to turn away from a good argument and would often take an opposing view to whatever matter was being discussed simply to enliven the discussion.”

He retired for health reasons in 2013 and was a resident at Abbey Health Center.

For his 50th jubilee in 2015, he told Arkansas Catholic, “Looking back on my own life, the priesthood/religious life is the best choice I could have made.”

He is survived by three brothers, Michael Donnelly of Venice, Fla., John Donnelly of Broken Arrow, Okla., and Robert Donnelly of Foley, Ala.; and one sister, Mary Penick of Tulsa, Okla.

The vigil service was Nov. 28 and a Mass of Christian Burial was Nov. 29, with burial in the abbey cemetery.

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