Joseph O'Donnell was born in Ireland in 1887, he was ordained in 1910 and served two curacies - St Edward Rusholme (1910-1926), and St Cuthbert, Withington (1926). In 1926 he was appointed to St Luke's. In the early days of the parish a silver chalice had been loaned by the parish of St. Cuthbert's and now its curate was being sent as St. Luke's second parish priest.
His first job was to continue the pioneering work already started by Fr. Singleton. In his first month at St. Luke's he organised a very successful two week Mission. Nearly 400 people attended the Sunday services which include some interested none Catholics. By 1926 the total of parishioners at St. Luke's had increased to 350. On 18th April, during the Mission, the parish acted as host, for the first time to 150 members of the Particular Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They met in the church and then marched together, headed by the Boy's Brigade Band, to the Public Hall in King Street for their official reception and business.
Due to the success of the Mission, in the succeeding months, it was followed up by special Charity Sermons, devotional Quarant Ore, Retreats and in 1927 solemn Erection in the church of the Stations of the Cross by Fr. Harold O.F.M. A branch of the Catholic Needlework Guild was also established at St. Luke's.
During this time the altar became more and more embellished due to public and private gifts. A new set of vestments for Fr. O'Donnell and new brass candlesticks were privately donated. Fr O'Donnell had inherited a debt of the parish of some £6000 also as expenses of the church were growing ideas for raising money were needed. Dances, garden parties, Christmas draws and sales of work took place. Two main events were a Garden Party held in the grounds of De La Salle College on September 4th 1926 and a successful Sale of Work in December 1928. These two events together raised £335 towards the needs of the parish.
Towards the end of his time, one of the parish's great supporters, Michael Murray died. He left a son, (Thomas Murray was a priest) and three daughters. His daughters continued their support of the church and Agnes was a great benefactor over the coming years.
In September 1930 Fr. O'Donnell was transferred to be Parish Priest at St. Alphonsus' Brooks Bar where he would serve for 43 years until his death 4 April 1973, there he built the new gothic inspired church which opened in 1936 and schools, he was appointed a Canon in 1951. History has not remembered the Canon kindly, at least four of his curates died young in quick succession - allegedly from malnutrition and neglect.
Canon O'Donnell did make a brief re-appearance at St Luke's when accompanying the Bishop, he attended the opening ceremony of the new church in 1969
far right Canon O'Donnell