Sunday, December 27, 2009

Prayers for Fr. Deeney

Fr. Deeney about to say Mass on his 87th birthday for 26 of his Jesuits brothers and us!

I'd ask any and all who read my blog to say a prayer for my friend Fr. John Deeney, SJ in India.

Even the most casual reader would know of the love and respect I have for this great man and his life long work (Appeal for the St. Paul Miki School in India) of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to souls in a land so far away. I am privileged to know a great many people in this world and I have never met anyone more holier, or humble, than this Jesuit (so humble in fact that he intentionally doesn't capitalize the 'sj' after his name). He has sought God in all things in his life, and as the e-mails below will indicate he may be close to his eternal reward. I can think of no one more deserving of a place at the right hand of God.

I was introduced to Fr. Deeney through my best friend and his grand nephew Johnny Gill -- and I am in debt to the Deeney/Curtis/Caramanico clan for allowing me to become part of their great family. Years ago Johnny and Fr. Deeney came to my house for dinner and not being the greatest chef I cooked hot dogs and bake beans on the hottest day of the year (Fr. liked my 'Boston' beans, which he hadn't had in 50 years). Since my house is small, and my air conditioner even smaller... I asked Father if he was comfortable. He told me he was a little cold ;-), and shared with us that it was over 100 degrees at night in India although he had a ceiling fan that kept things cool -- when they had electricity! When I'm forced to watch those ridiculous reality shows with Mrs. 44, and the actors' unfounded complaints, my mind drifts to Fr. Deeney's 100 degree room. Last year Johnny and I got a brief taste of the conditions Father has lived through for 60 years when we visited.

At the request of the Jamshedpur Province Fr. Deeney wrote a brief autobiography as inspiration for the younger Jesuits. In it he spoke of his vocation, and how God wanted him to be a Jesuit. I asked him recently about the details of this:

About my vocation. While I was alone, quietly waiting for a trolley I suddenly had this firm conviction, almost like a message, that God wanted me to become a Jesuit. It was a very strong thing, which left no question of doubting it. After that I just knew that I was to become a Jesuit. I considered that very sacred and never spoke about it until recent years. When I was asked to write something about my vocation I wrote that with hesitation, and asked the Socius to the Provincial whether I should include that. He advised me to include it. In recent years I have come to think of it as a kind of intellectual vision (i.e. no sight nor sound). In the Spiritual Exercises #330 Ignatius writes about consolation without previous cause. This was something like that. It came to me suddenly out of the blue.

I share this with you all (and I hope that Father doesn't mind) because I feel that God still tries to speak to us everyday, in many ways... yes, even while waiting for a trolley on Girard Avenue outside St. Joseph's Prep in North Philadelphia. So many distractions these days though. We make it difficult to hear what He is telling us. I sometimes wonder why Johnny, the Klarich boys and I traversed 9,000 miles to visit him and the wonderful Jesuits in India. Miraculously we may have been quiet enough to hear His call that one particular day.

So I'd ask that you take a moment and say a prayer for this humble Jesuit and this loyal servant of Christ -- so that he doesn't suffer. He is at the finish line of his life, and I'm quite sure that God has a nice place waiting for him. I hope it is nicer than his room in Lupungutu -- although I know Father won't mind a bit.

I shared Fr. Deeney's vocation story with my Ignatian Prayer Group led weekly by Fr. James Moore, SJ. At the end of our meeting Fr. Moore gave us some advice, which I will now pass on to you:

Go find your trolley, and may it bring you consolation without previous cause.




To all of you,

Since the Provincial sent out that letter which I forwarded to the whole Province, I think it best to give you the full picture. The doctor told the Provincial that I could expect 2-3 good enough months and then probably slide into a more difficult stage. I think that you know that I am ready for whatever. God has been so good to me and He has put me into such a wonderful loving family that I have really been blessed. I know that He has a nice place ready for me when the pains of this life end. I include Tom here because he has linked in so well with my work.

Much much love to all,

John, sj


Today (24 December 2009) at noon I made a visit to Mercy hospital with Fr. Jerry Cutinha. Fr. John Deeney, who was admitted on 16 December 2009, looked far better – swelling in the legs disappeared, skin colour returning to normal, more strength in body and more smiles on the face. He greeted us with folded hands and a friendly smile. He still feels quite weak and finds it difficult to swallow solid food. He mentioned that he had half an egg for breakfast after so many days. The fluid formation in the stomach has been flushed out with a syringe. His stomach still looks full with fluid. More flushing is to be done late in the day.

Then we met Dr. Tamal Deb, the Resident Doctor who is treating Fr. John. He told us that John was suffering from two major health problems, one, with anemia with very low blood count (for which blood transfusion was done), second, a cancerous development in his gal bladder that causes the fluid accumulation in his stomach (which is being flushed out). The Doctor assured us that they are giving all care and medication to reduce pain and uneasiness in John. However, he did not rule out sudden change of situation. He told us he would keep John for a few more days and then discharge him to be taken care of at Jesuit Infirmary in XLRI.

Fr. John needs our prayerful support and round the clock assistance.

Mike T Raj, SJ

Jamshedpur Jesuit Province
Loyola Niwas,
15 Straight Mile Road,
Sakchi, Jamshedpur 831001, INDIA

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