Born in Limerick city on July 16 1928 to Brigid (née Devereux) and William Prendergast, Joe lived briefly in Cork before moving, aged 7, to Dublin and attending O’Connell Schools.
He entered Kilshane in 1945 and was professed the following year. He completed Philosophy studies in Kimmage Manor in 1949, prefected in Blackrock for two years and would complete Theology in 1955. Graduating with a B.A. from UCD, he was ordained in 1954.
Father Joe’s first appointment was to Onitsha in Nigeria. From 1956 to 1960, he taught at the Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, and for the next seven years in Emene where he was principal of the new Saint Patrick’s Secondary School. During the Nigerian Civil War, his tasks included distributing resources sent by the Superior General to the many refugee camps and, from 1967 to 1970, he served in Uli where one of his roles was to unload Caritas relief planes.
After leaving Nigeria, he moved to the US in response to a request from Catholic Relief Services for a priest to help raise funds for Biafra. He would soon find himself in the first of several pastoral ministries in California. These included Saint Athanasius (Mountain View) – a Spiritan parish in which he was parish priest for 9 years – Saint Patrick’s (Larkspur), Saint Matthew’s (San Mateo), Saint Francis Cabrini (San José) and Saint Justin’s (Santa Clara).
In 2011 he received the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” award for distinguished service to the Church. Bishop McGrath had nominated Father Prendergast for this award. He retired to Ireland in 2012.
Memorial Mass will be held on January 9, 2016 at 10am at Saint Justin Parish in Santa Clara.