The Rev. Charles J. Mcfadden, 80; Taught Philosophy At Villanova

Posted: March 30, 1990

The Rev. Charles J. McFadden, 80, a gentle, practical philosophy professor who taught at Villanova University for 40 years, died Tuesday at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He had lived for the last 50 years at St. Thomas of Villanova monastery.

Father McFadden, a member of the Augustinian order of priests and brothers, was "a kind of Mr. Chips in the classroom," said the Rev. Francis X. McGuire, retired president of Villanova and a longtime friend of Father McFadden's.

He was "a scholar and gentleman," said Father McGuire, who was president of the university from 1944 to 1954. Students "respected him and enjoyed him," he said.

Father McFadden was an expert in the philosophy of communism and in medical ethics.

"He did not spend his time in the ethereal regions of speculative philosophy" but concentrated on philosophical problems raised by life in the modern world, Father McGuire said.

Father McFadden also was "quite a tinkerer," who liked working with gadgets and doing car repair, said the Rev. Francis J. Horn of the Augustinian Office of Communications in Villanova.

Father McFadden was born in Philadelphia and attended Our Mother of Good Counsel School in Bryn Mawr.

He entered the Augustinian Academy in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1923 as a candidate for admission to the Augustinian order. He graduated from high school in 1927 and was received into the order in 1928.

He graduated from Villanova University in 1932, with a bachelor's degree in philosophy.

He studied theology at Augustinian College in Washington and was ordained to the priesthood in 1935.

After ordination, Father McFadden studied for a doctorate in philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington, where he was taught by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Archbishop Sheen, who was then a member of the Catholic University faculty, became Father McFadden's "guide and preceptor," Father McGuire said. "They became very good friends. Bishop Sheen was, I would say, very proud of him."

After receiving his doctorate in 1938, Father McGuire returned to Villanova in January 1939 to teach philosophy. He remained a member of the philosophy department until he retired in 1979 with the rank of professor.

He also taught part time at Rosemont College for 16 years and at the Fitzgerald Division of Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby for 25 years.

In spite of a heavy teaching schedule, Father McFadden wrote 13 books. His 1939 volume, Philosophy of Communism, was praised by Archbishop Sheen in the book's preface as "without a doubt, the best book in any language on the philosophy of communism."

The work appeared in two editions and was translated into Spanish and Portuguese.

Father McFadden also wrote extensively on medical ethics. One of his works, The Dignity of Life, published in 1976, was translated into Chinese and is used by eight Catholic hospitals in the Hong Kong area.

He continued to write after his retirement from teaching. In 1982, he published Christianity Confronts Communism, a handbook on communism for the

average reader.

Father McFadden traveled extensively and made long visits to the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries.

He is survived by a brother, Harry J. McFadden, of Broomall; a sister, Marjorie Haas, of Havertown; and 17 nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Denis Church on Eagle Road in Havertown at 8 tonight. Friends may call at the church after 7 p.m.

Father McFadden will be buried tomorrow in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken. The funeral procession will leave St. Denis Church at 9 a.m.

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