Labor Leader of the Week: Father Jack O'Malley

Labor Leader of the Week doesn’t quite describe this recognition. It is more like Labor Leader of the Ages. Throughout his formidable life, Father John ‘Jack’ O’Malley lived committed to God as a spiritual and labor leader working towards equity for all people.



Father Jack was a humble servant and a passionate advocate for the working class. He was referred to as the Chaplin of the Unions for more than 50 years. During those years, he touched the lives of many people. When Joe Biden came to the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO offices on Labor Day this year and heard Father Jack was sick the former Vice President made a point to call the Union Chaplain.



He regularly challenged big business in the name of workers’ rights and some of his organizing efforts even ended being detained by the police. Father O’Malley was not necessarily an advocate of breaking the law but, he was known to say “sometimes you have to bend the law to be heard.”



According to him, it was important that workers be heard, and that while he could speak eloquently on behalf of workers Father Jack believed his best quality was his ability to listen. He was attentive to the working class and listened patiently to their needs in order to truly advocate on their behalf. That way of conducting fellowship, standing side by side with his sisters and brothers, was how he acted on his own beliefs.



Father Jack taught us that our deeds made a difference and that it was not enough to merely be against something. Your actions must be for something. To consider donating your time to the betterment of all humanity and remembering to care for your neighbors, especially in these trying times when more families than ever before are in need of assistance.


One of the most powerful ways Father Jack encouraged people to advocate was to exercise their right to vote. In his memorial, the family said “In lieu of flowers, it would be Jack’s wish to please VOTE!”


To honor this week’s Labor Leader and his memory we are encouraging our members to reach out to their neighbors, friends, and family they way Father Jack would. Make a call to be sure they are safe, that they have things they need, and that they are ready to vote in November. Consider volunteering with Labor 2020 and ensuring our sisters and brothers across this great commonwealth are registered and ready to vote.



For those that would like to leave public condolences please visit this link to McCabe Brothers’ Funeral Homes.



Appreciation to Rosann Barker for her contributions to this piece.