Joseph Graham Healey was born on April 29, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan, son of John Anthony Healey and Virginia Mary Graham. At an early age his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. He has two brothers, three stepbrothers and one sister. He attended Gilman School and graduated from Portsmouth Abbey High School in Rhode Island in June 1956. After three years at Princeton University he entered Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, on September 4, 1959. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Maryknoll College in June 1961, and his Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Maryknoll Seminary, New York. He was ordained a priest there on June 11, 1966. After ordination, Father Healey received a Masters degree in Journalism (International Communications) at the University of Missouri in 1968 and then worked for the Maryknoll Magazine at Maryknoll, New York and produced religion television programs for the local NBC affiliate station in New York City.
In 1968, he was assigned to the 'then' Maryknoll Africa Region. From 1969-1974 he was the Social Communications Secretary of AMECEA (Association of the Catholic Bishops Conferences in Eastern Africa) based in Nairobi, Kenya. He served as Editor of AMECEA Communications and conducted training workshops in communications media. He served as the Church Press Officer during Pope Paul VI's visit to Uganda in 1969 and during various Regional and Continental Bishops Meetings. After a spiritual renewal sabbatical he lived a ministry of spiritual presence in Nyabihanga Village in Rulenge, Tanzania from 1976-1978. In 1979 he was assigned to Maryknoll's Formation-Education Department and coordinated the Integration Year and taught mission spirituality at Maryknoll Seminary, New York. He received a Master degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in 1981.
After returning to the Tanzania Region in 1982, Father Healey worked in the Iramba Parish in Musoma Diocese, where he concentrated on building Small Christian Communities and developing the Adult Catechumenate (RCIA). In February, 1987, he became the Social Communications Coordinator of the Maryknoll Missioners based at Makoko, Musoma. He did research on African proverbs, sayings and stories and gave occasional lectures on inculturation at the Makoko Language School.
He has written extensively on Small Christian Communities, African proverbs, sayings and stories, communications, inculturation, and mission. His books include A Fifth Gospel: The Experience of Black Christian Values (Orbis Books, 1981); Kuishi lnjili -- Living the Gospel (Benedictine Publications, 1982); Kueneza Injili Kwa Methali -- Preaching the Gospel Through Proverbs (Benedictine Publications, 1984); What Language Does God Speak: African Stories About Christmas and Easter (St. Paul Publications, 1989); Kugundua Mbegu za Injili -- Discovering Seeds of the Gospel (Benedictine Publications, 1993); Je, Mungu Anasema Lugha Gani? (Benedictine Publications, 1993), Towards An African Narrative Theology (first printed in 1996 and now in the following editions: Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 5th Printing 2004 and Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 4th Reprint 2005); Once Upon a Time in Africa: Stories of Wisdom and Joy (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004); African Stories for Preachers and Teachers (Paulines Publications Africa, 2005); and Small Christian Communities Today: Capturing the New Moment (edited with Jeanne Hinton) (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005).
On August 25, 1989, Father Healey was appointed the Second Assistant to the Regional Superior of the Maryknoll Tanzania Mission Region. For many years he was the Editorial Advisor to two publications, Communicatio Socialis Yearbook and New People. On September 18, 1989 he was elected Second Chapter Delegate for the Tanzania Region and attended the Ninth General Chapter of the Maryknoll Society at Maryknoll, New York in October 1990.
In November, 1994, Fr. Healey moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he works in a variety of mission, communications and pastoral ministries. He was the Chairperson and later Coordinator of the Mission Awareness Committee (MAC) of the Religious Superiors' Association of Tanzania (RSAT). He is a member of the St. Charles Lwanga Jesus Small Christian Community (SCC) in Drive-in Estate and a member of the Jesus Caritas Fraternity. Presently he is the Local Superior of the Maryknoll Society House in Masaki, Msasani and the Editor of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region Newsletter. He is the representative of the Maryknoll Africa Region on the Orbis Books Advisory Board and the Moderator of the "African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Website" at http://www.afriprov.org.