In Memory of Fr. Manning

Father Paul R. Manning served the Oratory Prep community for 29 years in positions ranging from master teacher to beloved tennis coach, mentor and friend. He held the role of Headmaster from 1992 to 1994. Fr. Manning departed this earthly life on March 7, 2023. We welcome you to share your memories of him to be memorialized below.
"Father Manning was one of the teachers that most defined my years at Oratory. He taught us ancient Homeric Greek before the formal start of the school day, sometimes after presiding over early morning mass. While I was there he taught Latin, Greek, many levels of math, philosophy, and I even hear he taught French! Such was his dedication to educating young men that in the summer of 2000, Fr. Manning hosted a small group of us Greek students for extra sessions, where we studied Herodotus. Fr. Manning always held his students to high standards: nobody ever got a perfect score in his class. 100 was for God, 99 was for the teacher, and the best we could ever do was 98. His classroom enthusiasm was unmatched, especially when describing the beauty and order of mathematics. Once he got to know you, and what language you were studying, he would usually address you in that language. This was his way of recognizing each of us personally and adding a personal touch to his deadpan sense of humor. About 15 years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Fr. Manning at his retirement home in Florida. As many of you know, Father loved sunshine and enjoyed sitting out in the sun whenever he had the chance. He referred to his new home as his "poolside office" where he offered spiritual counseling to other senior citizens in the complex. Even in retirement, he continued to serve God and his neighbors!"
-Matthew O'Donnell '03
Fr Manning with Five Oratory Prep students
"Fr. Manning was a larger than life figure looming over my freshman geometry class. He made it perfectly clear to all of us where freshman belonged in the pecking order. He instantly demanded respect, but he also radiated a kindness, strength, warmth, and charm that was immediately apparent even upon meeting for the first time. At a time of our lives where we were all testing out personalities and thinking about who we wanted to be, Fr. Manning provided an exceptional example of what a life well-lived could look like. He showed that learning could be a truly joyful experience. He will be deeply missed."
-Eugene Gillespie '00
"Fr. Manning once told me that 'his 28 years at Oratory were the happiest of his life.'”
-Bryan Greiner ‘85
"Father Manning was without question the best teacher I've ever had! He was a brilliant scholar, gifted teacher, and an orthodox faithful Roman Catholic Priest. Even though more than 40 years have passed, I can vividly recall, Fr. Manning writing on the blackboard, cassock full of white chalk dust looking back at the class and saying, "this gentleman is the beauty of Mathematics"! Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Manning, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."
-Jim Stokes '80

"Father Manning had a huge effect on me, my career and my success. He was greatly respected and a calm and thoughtful man. As a senior taking calculus, I cursed him. As a college freshman, I applauded him."
-Michael Thomas '78
"Although I never had Father Manning for class, we had several intimate conversations during the many Saturday detentions we spent together. He was always fair; stern but fair. I was very fortunate to speak with him recently and hear how much he truly loved his time at The Prep and his Oratory family. Rest easy Fr. Manning."
-John Schipani '90

"Matrix Algebra and Imaginary Numbers: Father Manning was so persuasive he convinced a few of us to learn about these topics during our lunch hour. Father Manning was the best teacher I experienced and I measured every subsequent teacher to his standards but none could match. Father Manning was a renaissance man and everyone who knew him will miss his intelligence, passion, spirituality, and thoughtfulness. Rest in peace."
-Dan Pallone '82
"God Bless Father Manning!! God has a special place waiting for him in heaven. My favorite teacher and human in my 4 years at Oratory Prep. And talk about a brilliant human being!!"
-Carl Aloi ‘94
"Let me start with a disclaimer, I am not looking for condolences as I post this. I want to simply honor a great educator and man for his work with youth and for the care, compassion and mostly the patience that he showed us as he tried to educate us. Fr. Paul Manning inspired many, will not be forgotten, and is now with his Heavenly Father. May he Rest In Peace. For those of you who would like to learn more about him, click here.
Here are some thoughts I had, if you were ever educated by Fr. Manning you may appreciate this below. Father influenced the youth at Union Catholic High School, Seton Hall Prep, Oratory Prep School and Seton Hall University - and maybe even a few other places.
Our world lost one of the finest educators ever! What can one say about a man, who influenced so many! I am sort of at a loss for words in hearing the news of Father Paul Manning’s passing. First, my deepest condolences to his brother, Robert and his sister-in-law Tina. I also pass those along to his nephew Duane and niece Francine. I was blessed to have had Fr. Manning as a teacher at Oratory Prep from 1990-1994. I still remember my first day in Algebra I as a freshman, and he made it clear that he “hated” freshman, maybe he used a different word, but this is the word that stuck over the years. You have to know him to understand what he truly meant by that comment – he hated the immaturity of freshman and maybe to some extent, that because we all came from different schools and levels of mathematical understanding, he would have to probably get us all up to speed. I can hear his voice yelling, “It’s all so logical,” because for him math was logical, there was no emotion to it. While he may have seemed non-emotional, he cared so much for his students and his family. I remember Mr. Carlson, my freshman teacher telling me to go to Fr. Manning (as a freshman) and tell him “Je pense, donc je suis!” (I think, therefor I am) and he gave me that grin, you all know the one I am referring to.
Father, always wore his sweaters in the winter, always had chalk on him and you could always find him in one of two places – his classroom or the tennis courts. Father provided us with an appreciation of math and foreign languages and experiences. He was a Man of God and today, I know that is where he is, looking down on all of us. Some more memories of Father were trips with him. As a freshman I went to St. Martin in the Virgin Islands on a French Club trip – it was awesome, first he made us only speak in French to him and second, he was in his late 50’s at the time and took all these teenage boys on a trip, not to the next city, but to another country. That trip was so amazing for all of us. He told us that he would be on the beach solving mathematical equations.
Father loved the opera, he loved heading into the city for a good show. He took us to French plays, French restaurants, on tours of schools in NYC, like Columbia and NYU. We listened to Radio Canada in his French classes to then provide him a synopsis of what we heard. He moderated many clubs, I was in the chess club with him as the moderator. His classroom was always buzzing, with chess players, students getting extra help in math, and students just hanging out. He provided us with many opportunities to grow, experience and to develop a love for learning, education and things we may not have been very comfortable with. My personal favorite thing about Father Manning, when he did mass for the school. His homilies were mathematical and included a problem to be solved, and if we solved it there would be extra credit. The problem of the day, was always posted in the cafeteria for us to try and solve, again for extra credit. He always put these things out there to help us see it, try things and to help us understand the “truth.”
I knew a lot about him from my experiences with him and the stories he shared, I was privileged to have had him as a teacher and in my life as a positive role-model. In his passing I am learning that he was much more of a rock star than we knew. It shows just how humble he really was.
This past year I called Father Manning the day after his birthday to wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, when he answered he sounded a bit weak. He apologized that he could not talk long, I told him not to be sorry, that I wanted to wish him well, remind him that he had many people who loved and cared about him, were thankful for him being in their lives and that I would both pray for him, and send a message on Facebook for others in the Oratory community to pray for his recovery. I never imagined that would be the last decent conversation I would have with him.
My last really good conversation with him was last year on his birthday. I reached out to him to wish him a happy birthday and he was excited to hear from me. We joked and reminisced about life and how we both were. He told me that he lived on the 11th floor and asked me if I knew why – my answer to him was that it had to do with math. He said that is right, “it’s a Prime number.” We talked a little about Cardinal’s baseball and he asked how I remembered that he was a fan, I reminded him that he had once told me that he was a St. Louis Cardinals fan since having been a child, because he loved the arch and the math behind it. As we finished up our conversation, I told him thank you for being such an amazing educator, Sheppard and friend. Father influenced me and many others, my parents sacrificed to send me to Oratory and get me a great education, one that would benefit me in the future and it was because of teachers like Father Manning that Oratory was such a great place. I told him I loved him and that I would pray for him.
His love for students kept him young, his love for math was more than obvious to anyone who came in contact with him. He was refined, a true Man of God, a great man of character, he lived life through sharing what he had and could with others. Those of us that truly knew him lost an amazing man, brother, uncle, colleague, teacher, friend, priest, and mathematician. I still hear his voice in class and he would probably tell us today, that, “It is ALL so logical.” That he entered this world, received a calling from God to serve others – and did in all the ways I described above, and that in retirement he continued to serve, but that in the end God would some day call him back. He is up there watching over us, probably doing math, not on the sand on the beach, but on the clouds. Father Manning left his mark on this world, in all the youth that were privileged to have had him in class and they carry his legacy forward. May you finally Rest In Peace and may perpetual light shine upon you!"
-Diogo Tavares Class of 1994

"I coached the lower school basketball team from 1978 to 1990. Back then the annual sports dinner was held at L’Affaire, a big restaurant on Route 22. I remember, for a number of years, when Father Manning would come up to the podium to address the students and parents attending the affair and talk about his team’s success that year, he would always start his remarks by asking the crowd to first look up at the light fixtures on the ceiling of the banquet hall and note that they were all in the shape of a dodecahedron and he would add that he was sure that all of his students in the room who had taken his geometry class had already noticed that fact. Father Manning was a wonderful man and positively touched a lot of lives while at Oratory and during his life."
-Jerry Anastasio ‘70

"Fr. Manning was simply the best. He was the toughest, most demanding teacher I ever had...but the best teacher I ever had. A C in Manning's class was like an A in any other class. He could be a VERY funny man, if you weren't too scared of him to notice his deadpan sense of humor. The smartest person I have ever met. He wasn't just a math teacher. During the late 70's, he taught several math courses, plus French courses, and a summer computer programming course too. I suspect he could have taught Latin, Philosophy, Physics, and Literature too (he actually had us read a novel in Geometry class), if he had the time. I'm confident that Pythagoras and Isaac Newton have found a great new companion in heaven. Rest in Peace Fr. Manning. You will be missed, but you will never be forgotten."
-Bob Anastasio '80