The Reverend James Aloysius Manley
Second Pastor of St. Mary
1939 – 1940
The Reverend James Aloysius Manley became the Second Pastor of St. Mary Parish on July 1, 1939.
James was born on October 16, 1886 in the Ohio River town of Bellaire, OH to Irish immigrants, Bryan Manley and Margaret McDonald. James’ father was a stonemason who died when James was very young.
Fr. Manley received his theological education from Belmont Abbey, NC and was ordained a priest by Bishop Leo Michael Haid, O.S.B. on June 4, 1916. Following his ordination, Fr. Manley was commissioned in 1917 as an Army Chaplain in the 18th Field Artillery AEF. During the First World War, Fr. Manley saw action in France and was injured at Meuse-Argonne in 1918. Returning to the United States, he served at Coast Defenses of Pensacola, FL until discharged under the Army Reduction Bill in 1922.
While spending time in New York City, Fr. Manley became a renowned amateur boxer. A New York Times article of November 27, 1927 mentions him as coaching a boxing squad for a Winter Sports Program. During the Great Depression, Fr. Manley was the only known Roman Catholic priest in the United States to be coaching boxing teams.
After returning to North Carolina in 1933, Fr. Manley was assigned to St. Mary Parish as a Parochial Vicar. While at St. Mary’s, Fr. Manley helped bring the Golden Gloves Tournament to Wilmington. As a devotee of good sportsmanship, Fr. Manley gave the youth of the Cape Fear Coast a new conception of competition.
Fr. Manley was a talented writer and completed short histories of the Wilmington Catholic Community. In 1936, he was elected Departmental Chaplain of the North Carolina Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and was also Chaplain for the Cape Fear Chapter of the VFW.
Fr. Manley became St. Mary’s Second Pastor after Msgr. Dennen retired from the position in 1939.
Sadly, the Wilmington Morning Star reported that Fr. Manley died ten months later in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 30, 1940. His remains lay in state in St. Mary Church and then were taken to train to Belmont Abbey Cemetery to be buried.