Newman Clubs serve as a center for Catholic students attending non-Catholic colleges and Universities. In Washington Bishop O’Dea, in 1908, invited the Dominicans to serve the students at the University of Washington, Seattle, and they established a Newman Club for the students, where they still serve.
I was a freshman at the University of Washington in 1953 and I got involved in the Newman Club where I first met a charismatic priest, Fr. Bill Dooley, who was the chaplain of the Club while serving at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle. I was drawn to this very bright and witty man who had Irish charm and spent a lot of time attending Mass and lectures while a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Father William Dean Dooley, O.P. was very special. The “O.P.” stands for order of preachers and could he preach! He could debate with the best and radiated what a spiritual and holy man he was. He played a very important role in my life and was the influence that led me to leave the University to test a vocation to the priesthood at St. Martin’s College in 1954 and from there to Gonzaga Law School.
Fr. Dooley was born in California and began his Dominican studies in 1921. He attended philosophy and Theology College in Rome. He was ordained in 1929 and remained in Rome were he obtained his doctorate in Sacred Theology. In World War II he was a chaplain where he was involved in Guadalcanal, Fiji Islands and the occupation of Japan. In 1948 he returned to the Newman Club. He was the chaplain there through the 1950’s and into 1960. His wit and humor as well as oratory skills filled the Newman House with students often spilling outside to hear him. He introduced innovative ministerial programs and made lifelong friends.
He died February 2, 1974 in Oakland at age 72 and is buried at St. Dominic’s Cemetery in Benicia, California. Here’s to my mentor. May he rest in peace.