Father Edward Hayes was born on November 13, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Patrick and Gertrude Tate Hayes. He graduated from Blessed Sacrament Grammar School in Cambridge in 1946 and attended one year of Sacred Heart Central High School in Cambridge, before entering Maryknoll's Brookline Junior Seminary in September 1947. Father Hayes was ordained June 13, 1959 at Maryknoll, New York.
After ordination, Father Hayes was assigned to Maryknoll's Mission in Tanzania where he served for almost thirty-one years. Father Hayes was deeply involved with the African people in various pastoral ways. He worked to Christianize the central rituals of the Wakuria, to incorporate their passage to elderhood into a Christian feast. As some of these elders were baptized, they opened the door for the conversion of others of their people. Father Hayes was elected Second Assistant to the Regional Superior for Tanzania in 1981 and was elected Regional Superior of Tanzania in June 1983 and re-elected in 1986.
At the 1990 Chapter, Father Hayes was elected to the General Council and served as the Africa Area Assistant General. Upon completion of his term on the Council, he attended the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the North American College in Rome. Father Hayes was appointed Procurator General for the Maryknoll Society for a three-year term effective June 1, 1997 with residence in Rome, Italy. On January 1, 1999, he was assigned to the Maryknoll Africa Region with residence in Rome.
In mid-2000, Ed returned to his beloved Africa to work among the Kuria people in Kowak Parish, Musoma, Tanzania.