William Delaney was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 10, 1903 the second of four children of William and Margaret (nee Finneran) Delaney. He grew up in South Providence graduating from the Tyler Parochial School and LaSalle Academy. Delaney then attended Georgetown University and St. Charles College, a minor seminary in Catonsville, Maryland before receiving his bachelor and master degrees from St. Mary Seminary then in Baltimore, Maryland. William was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1929 and celebrated his first Mass shortly thereafter at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.
Father Delaney first assignment was at St. Andrew Church on Block Island. He then served at Immaculate Conception Church in Providence and as chaplain at Villa St. Rosa, a Catholic nursing home facility, and as a curate at St. Thomas Church in Providence. In 1935 Father Delaney co-founded the establishment of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in the Diocese of Providence and, for eighteen years following, served as its director launching a vigorous campaign against juvenile delinquency. At the same time, he encouraged fellow parish priests to establish more than 11 Boy Scout and 65 Girl Scout troops in the diocese. He also served as the Roman Catholic chaplain at the Boy Scout reservation at Camp Yawgoog in Rockville (Hopkinton), Rhode Island.
In 1953, Father Delaney founded St. Maria Goretti parish in Pawtucket and personally led the fundraising campaign to build the church and school structures for the parish. He served as pastor there for twenty years and as pastor emeritus in his later years. Unfortunately, St. Maria Parish was closed by the diocese in 2016 due to debt issues and a dwindling parish population.
Father Delaney was elevated to Prelate of Honor with the title of Reverend Monsignor in 1989 after having served as the first Catholic chaplain of the Rhode Island State Police in 1960, a post he held for more than twenty years.
Monsignor Delaney was a diocesan consultor, a member of the Priests Senate and Chairman of the Grievance Committee at the Priests Personnel Board. During his lifetime, Monsignor received many honors and distinctions including recognition from Big Brothers of Rhode Island, the Georgetown Club of Rhode Island, the Fraternal Order of Eagles (an international non-profit organization promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope) and the Boy Scouts of America. In recognition of his extraordinary work with youth and dedication to them, Monsignor Delaney was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1973. He died in Smithfield, Rhode Island at the age of 90 on December 5, 1993 and is buried in St. Ann Cemetery in Cranston, Rhode Island.