Very Rev. John Russell, O. Carm., 1934-2012

With the gracious permission of the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary I reproduce below the province's announcement of the death of Father John Russell, a scholar of St. Therese, and the story of his life. May St. Therese obtain from God for him the complete fulfillment of the desire he shared with her: "to love Jesus and to make Him loved."

photograph of Rev. John F Russell, O. Carm.

 Very Rev. John Russell, O. Carm.


(September 24, 2012) The Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, Order of Carmelites, mourns the death of the Very Reverend John Russell, O.Carm., who died at the age of 78 on September 23, 2012 at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, New Jersey, following a lengthy illness

 Visitation for Father John was held on Thursday, September 27, 2012, from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 10 County Road, Tenafly, New Jersey, with a Vigil Prayer Service following at 7:30 PM.  The Mass of Christian Burial took place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Tenafly, on Friday, September 28, 2012, at 10:00 AM.  Interment followed immediately at Mount Carmel Cemetery, Tenafly, New Jersey.

 Father John was born to (the late) David Joseph Russell and (the late) Ellen Theresa (Shea) Russell on July 19, 1934, in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.  He is predeceased in death by his brother David Russell. He is survived by many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

 John Russell attended the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts, professing simple vows to the Carmelites in the Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary on August 26, 1954, taking the religious name of Fintan.  On August 26, 1957, John made his solemn profession with the Carmelites.  He then attended Saint Bonaventure University in Olean, New Jersey, from where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.  He then attended the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, Italy, receiving a bachelor’s in sacred theology, and a licentiate in sacred theology.  He also holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois, and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  He was ordained a priest on July 25, 1960.

 Father John began his ministry in 1962 as a dean and teacher at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois.  In 1967 he taught theology at the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts.  In 1970 he moved to Whitefriars Hall in Washington, DC, where he served as assistant professor until 1975 and as Assistant Provincial until 1978.  In 1977 he moved to New Jersey, where he was professor of theology at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, until 1994.  During that time, from 1978 to 1981, he also served as Eastern Commissary Provincial for the Most Pure Heart of Mary Province of Carmelites.  From 1994-2000 he served as professor of theology and as spiritual director at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.   He then became the Director of Novices at Brandsma Priory in Middletown, New York, for two years before becoming Prior Provincial for the Most Pure Heart of Mary Province in 2002.  Father John served as Prior Provincial for one three-year term, and in 2005 returned to teaching theology and to spiritual direction at Immaculate Conception Seminary, where he served until his retirement in July, 2010. 

 A well-known writer, Father John published over 75 articles,  letters, homilies, book chapters and book reviews in such publications as The Irish Theological Quarterly, Carmelus, Downside Review, Church, Living Pulpit, The Sword, Ecumenical Trends, America, Vocations, The Catholic Advocate, Review for Religious, Spirit and Life, Beginnings, Karmel-Kontakt, Studies in Spirituality, Sicut Parvuli, Dizionario di Mistica, Catholic Digest, Experiencing Saint Therese Today, Today’s Parish, The Carmelite Review, Furrow, Ascent, The Catholic Educator, The Review of Metaphysics, Spiritual Life, Theological Studies, Religious Studies Review, Nova: A Voice of Ministry, Master of the Sacred Page, Pastoral Life, Sisters Today, Studies in Spirituality, and The New York Times.  He also published several audio and video cassettes on various topics in spirituality and Saint Therese of Lisieux, as well as The Path to Spiritual Maturity: Saint Therese of Lisieux, a novena booklet published by the Society of the Little Flower.  He was also the editor of the Carmelite publication The Sword from 1990 to 1996.  He was “Teacher of the Month” at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in December, 1986, and received the Merit Award for Excellence in Teaching at Seton Hall University in 1989 and 1992.  In the spring of 2009, Father John received the Benemerenti Papal Honors from Pope Benedict XVI for his long and exceptional service to the Church.  

 A final thought from Father John: “I am grateful for the many blessings which God has given me through the Carmelites, family, and friends.”  He lived at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Priory in Tenafly, New Jersey until his death.

 May he rest in peace.

Memorials in honor of the Very Reverend John Russell can be made to the Order of Carmelites, 8501 Bailey Road, Darien, Illinois, 60561.

 For further information on the Very Reverend John Russell, O. Carm., or the Order of Carmelites contact Carmelite Media at (630) 971-0724 or visit the Carmelite website at