Father Martin Manning, 1917-2011


By Msgr. Francis Henricksen

The oldest priest ordained for the Davenport Diocese has died.

Father Martin Brendan Manning was 93 and served the Church for 68 years. He was buried this past Tuesday with all the ceremony offered with the Church’s liturgy on his own Memorial Day.

The problem of living a long life is that one tends to outlive one’s contemporaries. Fr. Manning was retired over 26 years and health restrictions had limited his activity for many of those years. Such is life. 

Sadly though, this causes us to overlook the contributions he made to ministry, service of Church, the influence on the many people whose lives he touched with love. We quickly forget those accomplishments — and the person himself with the passage of time.


One cannot help but wonder what it was like to leave his home and family in Ireland to come to America — to Davenport, Iowa. Fr. Manning is the last of a host of native Irish priests, lead by the Holy Spirit to minister among us. He finished his undergraduate studies at St. Ambrose College just as World War II was breaking out in Europe. He was ordained in the early years of the United States’ participation in that war. 

Fr. Manning came to us on mission. The universal character of the Catholic Church is demonstrated here in his person. Today’s Church is no different as we welcome African, Vietnamese, Philippine priests to come to our part of the world to pastor the pilgrim Church of the Diocese of Davenport. We may never be able to appreciate or understand enough the added sacrifice that all of these priests have made to follow the Good Shepherd.

Our tribute today can only say thank you, Fr. Manning for your 68 years of faithful service among us. Time took you to work in most of the counties that comprise the Diocese of Davenport. Many people welcomed you and are grateful for your ministering to them. If with time, some of us may seem to have forgotten, we can only have a great gratitude for those care-givers of these last years who returned your love with theirs.

Your earthly journey is over. You are safe on your way. Jesus is the Way and has prepared a place for you!

Obituary for Father Martin Manning

Father Martin Manning, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, died May 24 in Bettendorf. He was 93.

Born in Ireland, he completed his elementary and high school education there and attended All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. He arrived in Iowa in 1937 and completed his studies at St. Ambrose College in Davenport. He completed theology studies at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

On Jan. 31, 1943, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Henry Rolhman at Immaculate Conception Academy Chapel in Davenport.

Fr. Manning served as an assistant at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport from 1943-46, St. Paul Parish in Burlington from 1946-48, chaplain at Mount Alverno Home in Clinton in 1948, assistant at St. Bridget Parish in Victor from 1948-51, St. Thomas More Parish in Iowa City and chaplain at University Hospitals in Iowa City from 1951-53, assistant at St. Mary Parish in Clinton in 1953 and St. Mathias Parish in Muscatine from 1953-58. He then served as a pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Kinross, St. Joseph Parish in Liberty and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman from 1958-69, St. Patrick Parish in Marengo from 1969-72, St. Mathias Parish in Muscatine from 1972-81 and St. Joseph Parish in North English from 1981-85. He then took a leave of absence due to health and retired in 1985.

Fr. Manning’s funeral was held May 31 at St. Anthony Church in Davenport. Burial was in Priests Circle at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

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