Jesuit Father John V. Daly died on June 2, 2014, in Seoul, Korea. He was 78 years old, a Jesuit for 60 years and a priest for 47 years.
He entered the old Missouri Province in 1953, became a member of the Wisconsin Province when it was created in 1955 and was transcribed to the Korean Region when that independent region was established in 1986. He was often called J.V. Daly, to distinguish him from John P. Daly, another outstanding Jesuit in the early days of the Society’s presence in Korea. In Korea itself, Fr. Daly was known as Fr. Jung Il-woo, SJ, the Korean name he took during his regency in Korea — it became his legal name soon after he became a Korean citizen in 1998.
Born Nov. 21, 1935, in Philo, Illinois, Fr. Daly attended grade school in Philo before moving on to Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he met the Jesuits. After graduating from Campion, he entered the Society at the Oshkosh Novitiate on Aug. 8, 1953, and, apart from being sent to Korea for language studies and regency, had the usual Jesuit course of studies at St. Stanislaus, Saint Louis University and St. Mary’s College. Fr. Daly was ordained in Milwaukee on June 8, 1966. He did tertianship in Korea and pronounced his final vows there on Nov. 6, 1972.
Fr. Daly’s long and fruitful Jesuit life was bound up with Korea and the Society’s growing presence there — from the time when a fledgling Korean mission was entrusted to a one-year-old Wisconsin Province to many years of remarkable growth into a full province of the Society with a variety of ministries and its own missionary outreach in Cambodia.
Fr. Daly returned to Korea for good in the summer of 1967 to build on what he had learned there as a regent and became one of the best inculturated foreign Jesuits serving in Korea. He acquired an excellent command of the Korean language. Over the years he had many responsibilities in various leadership positions in the Korean Society. He served on the novitiate staff, as formation director and finally as tertian instructor. At first he worked mostly at Sogang University, the focus of the Society’s early ministry in Korea. However, in 1973 Fr. Daly began over 30 years of direct ministry to the urban and rural poor of Korea, a valiant pioneer who, together with Jesuit Father Basil Price, laid the foundations of the Society’s extensive social justice ministry in Korea. With the strong support of Cardinal Stephen Kim, but sometimes in the face of serious opposition from other quarters, he and his lay colleague, Paul Je Jeong-gu, engaged in community-building efforts among the marginalized urban poor of Seoul. Their work ultimately led to the creation of the Bogeum-jari housing village — an achievement recognized in 1986 when both were named as recipients of the prestigious Magsaysay Award. From 1994 to 2002, Fr. Daly ministered in Kwoesan, a small, rural village in the middle of South Korea. In 2002 he returned to Seoul as the superior of the Han Mom Community and director of all the Society’s social apostolates in Korea.
In 2004, after a prolonged fast, Fr. Daly’s health began to fail. For the next 10 years, until his death, he struggled with increasingly poor health, although almost to the end he continued to do some of the spiritual ministries for which he was so well known.