+Bishop Elias James Manning, OFM Conv., 81-year-old Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Valenca (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil), passed away on October 13, 2019. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at his home parish, St. Michael the Archangel Church, 175 Williams Road, Troy, NY, on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 11:00 A.M. All are welcome.
Born on April 14, 1938, in Troy, NY, the son of James and Agnes (Fennelly) Manning, he was baptized James John. Educated at the La Salle Institute, Troy, NY, he cherished his status as a La Salle alumnus, for his lifetime. When he entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual, he took the religious name Friar Elias. As a missionary bishop in Brazil, he became affectionately known as “Dom Elias.”
From 1956 to 1958, Friar Elias studied at the minor seminary of St. Francis of Assisi in Staten Island, New York. In 1958, he entered novitiate and received the Franciscan habit and his new name. From 1959 to 1962, he studied philosophy and theology at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, New York, and continued his theological studies in the Order’s missions of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, arriving there on November 6, 1962. From 1963 to 1965, he studied theology at the archdiocesan seminary of San Giuseppe in Rio. In 1965, he received the diaconate by the imposition of the hands of Dom Jaime de Barros Camara and was ordained a priest on October 30, 1965 in the chapel of St. Francis on Staten Island, New York, by Archbishop Francisco E. Hyland.
Friar Elias easily adjusted to life in Brazil, quickly enculturating and learning the Portuguese language, while engaging in the pastoral work of the Church and Order. Within the Franciscan Mission of the Custody of the Immaculate Conception of Rio de Janeiro, he exercised the role of parish priest and guardian for several years; always bearing witness to the Kingdom of God by a notably simple and discreet Franciscan way of life. Friar Elias served as parochial vicar and parish priest in Santa Rita di Cassia, Pontalina (GO), in the diocese of Itumbiara; and as parochial vicar and parish priest at the Parish of San Francesco d’Assisi in Rio Comprido (RJ). From 1976 to 1979 he was Provincial Custos of the Immaculate Conception Custody of Rio de Janeiro. In 1986 he was transferred to Arauama (RJ) as parish priest.
In 1990 he was appointed sixth bishop of the Diocese of Valença, adopting the motto: “You are the highest good.” His ordination and episcopal inauguration took place on May 13, 1990. Dom Elias’ episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Valença focused on the role of the laity, and their commitment and participation in in the Church’s evangelization activities. Dom Elias strove to implement and satisfy the expectations of the Second Vatican Council, as a humble protagonist in Brazil’s Missionary Church. During his tenure as Bishop, Dom Elias inspired the faithful by his humble Franciscan lifestyle. He refused to live in the Bishop’s palace, opting instead for a small apartment in a housing complex occupied by the lay faithful.
Dom Elias retired as Bishop of Valença in 2012. After his retirement Dom Elias continued to live in his modest apartment, and he maintained an active ministerial life in the Brazilian Church. He remained closely affiliated with his religious family, the Franciscan Friars Conventual, and with the parishioners of St. Michael Parish in Troy, who supported him throughout the fifty-seven years of his Franciscan missionary labors among the poor in Brazil.
Suffering a stroke just after celebrating Mass on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4, 2019, Dom Elias passed away a few days later. His death was universally mourned throughout Brazil. Dom Elias’ Requiem took place immediately following his death, and he was interred in the Bishops’ crypt of the Cathedral in Valença.
Dom Elias was predeceased by his parents, and his sister Joan Manning Plunkett. He is survived by his brother Lawrence Manning, his sister-in-law Susan Manning, and several nieces and nephews. Memorial Donations for the Franciscan missions in Brazil can be sent to: The Franciscan Friars Conventual, 12300 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.