Friday, January 22, 2010

Requiescat in Pace Fr. Deeney

Fr. John Deeney was born in Philadelphia, on July 22nd 1921, joined the Society of Jesus in 1939 and was ordained priest in 1952. He came to India in January 1950. He had long had an interest in the problems of India and the adaptation of the missionary to the new surroundings. He had a shard and logical mind.

Fr. Deeney appeared in the Chaibasa scene on July 11th, headmaster of the High School and assistant parish priest, and later, for a short time, pastor. During these years he undertook extensive research into the life of the Ho people around, their culture and language – which went into publication as a seven volume Encyclopaedia, entitled “Ho Language and Customs”. He also prepared many liturgical and catechetical works for use in the villages. The whole liturgy is now conducted in the Ho language. He prepared and published the New Testament in Ho, as well as a pictorial life of Christ, wrote a Ho grammar and Vocabulary and a Ho English Dictionary.

His prolonged request to the Government of India for Indian citizenship was granted on February 20th 1991. The treasured document reads: Fr. John Joseph Deeney is entitled to all political and other rights, power and privileges, and is subject to all obligations, duties and liabilities to which an Indian citizen is entitled or subject, and he has to all intents and purposes the status of an Indian citizen. It was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of India.This honour is perhaps the best testimony to the Incarnational dimension of the life of the Church in himself and his work. Like St. Peter Claver, SJ of old, Fr. Deeney could well sign that document: “Ho with the Ho people forever”.

from “Surprised by Grace” by Fr. James Keogh SJ

Missionaries abandon their original home and acquire a new home. I was granted Indian citizenship in February, 1991. I renounced my American citizenship to express my complete solidarity with the Ho tribals I worked with and the many Indian brother priests I live and work with. India has been my home for 60 years now. At the age of 88 I look back with contentment on God’s call to become a Jesuit and spend my life here in India, serving the Ho tribals, who have become my people.

Fr. John J. Deeney, SJ, Jivan interview, October 2009


19 January 2010


I write to inform you that Rev. John J. Deeney (JAM, 1956), died on Monday, 18 January 2010 at Mercy Hospital in Jamshedpur. A Jesuit for 70 years, Fr. Deeney was 88 and had ministered in India since 1949.

Memorial Mass for
Fr. John J. Deeney, SJ:

Celebrant: Fr. George Bur, SJ
Homilist: Fr. Joseph Lacey, SJ

Saturday, January 30, 2010
11:00 am
Chapel of Saint Joseph - Michael J. Smith, SJ Memorial

Saint Joseph's University
5600 City Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Notes of condolences may be sent to:
Mrs. Nancy T. Curtis (sister)
257 Saxer Avenue
Springfield, PA 19064-3129

Gerald P. Deeney (brother)
3 Symons Lane
Savannah, GA 31411

Ed Deeney (brother)
201 S. 18th Street # 1006
Philadelphia, PA 19103-5913

Dr. & Mrs. Edward F. Flood (cousin)
9 Forsythia Drive South
Levittown, PA 19056

Saints of God, come to his aid!
Hasten to meet him angels of the Lord!
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.

It is with a heavy heart and tear in my eye that I must inform you of the passing of my friend Fr. John J. Deeney, SJ, of the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province. Fr. Deeney was hospitalized for the last month at the Mercy Hospital in Jamshedpur due to gallbladder cancer and, surrounded by his brother Jesuits and his nurse, peacefully went on to his eternal reward on Monday at 9:00 AM, Philadelphia time. He was 88 years young and Jesuit for over 70 years.

Even the most casual reader of the 44 Hawk Hill Buddy List e-mail and this blog would be familiar with this great man. I never tired of writing about him and his work ad maiorem Dei gloriam. He was a nice Catholic boy from row house Philadelphia's Germantown section who answered God's call to spread the Gospel to people 9,000 miles away.

Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, president of St. Joseph's University, said "I am sure that Father Deeney is enjoying his well deserved place close the Father." How true! Fr. James Moore, SJ of St. Joseph's University called him a "modern day Xavier." The Socius of Jamshedpur, Fr. Eric Cassel, SJ, reiterated the moniker “Apostle of the Hos” in the Kolhan area. From Steve Klarich, who visited Fr. Deeney in India... "he has been in my daily prayers since our visit, along with Fathers Greg D'Silva, SJ and Peter Martin, SJ. He dedicated his life to Christ and the Ho people. He was a truly remarkable man and an inspiration to all of us on the true purpose of life." Fr. Charlie Currie, SJ, whose two brothers served with Fr. Deeney in India, said "I have known him as legendary ever since I entered the Jesuits in 1950." Hawk alumni Patrick Sweeney, DDS mentioned that "we have lost an angel here on earth" and Greg McDermott opined that "I'm guessing St. Peter had the EZ Pass Lane open Monday morning." Fr. Deeney was such a humble man that he would have appreciated but shook his head and scoffed at the high praise. He was so humble, in fact, that I asked him once why he didn't capitalize the 'SJ' after his name, which as a Jesuit and a linguist he surely knew should be high case. He said he preferred using the small 'sj' because it was more humble. Ouch.

Perhaps his niece Theresa Roney hit the proverbial nail on the head when she wrote "we were, and will continue to be, blessed by his presence in our lives. He was a great brother, uncle, friend and most importantly, Jesuit priest to us all." His grand-nephew Johnny Gill added "I've met many great people. But none greater than he - none really close. I marvel at what he did with his life. I wonder where he found the strength. I can only hope and his story will continue to inspire all of us to be better each day."

I will forever be grateful to my best friend and Fr. Deeney's grand-nephew John Gill for introducing me, and to the Deeney-Curtis-Gill-Caramanico Family for sharing him with me.

A personal memory: Fr. Deeney came to my house for dinner and I cooked hot dogs and baked (Boston) beans, which he hadn't eaten in 40 years. My small house has an even smaller air conditioner and I was worried that it would not be cool enough for him. When I asked if he was comfortable he told me that he was a little cold and was used to the warmer Indian weather -- that it got to be over 100 degrees at night in India but that he had a ceiling fan over his bed and when there was electricity it cooled things off. Whenever Lisa complains about how hot it gets in Philadelphia in the summer I tell her to think of poor Fr. Deeney in India looking up at his motion-less ceiling fan. I’ve used this line so often that my hot blooded Italian wife (understandably sick of it) now throws something at me with every telling – but I’m good at ducking ;)

Fr. Deeney was always grateful for everything, and could prove it in record time ;-) In '07 I asked my friends for donations to help out his mission in Pandabir and to send them to him directly at his sister's house in Springfield where he was staying. My buddy Dave Conroy sent him a check on Monday morning... and got his 'thank you' letter from Fr. Deeney on Wednesday morning. Dave called me immediately and asked how in God's name was he able to get a seemingly miraculous two day turnaround from the US Post Office? His sister Nancy spilled the beans; Fr. Deeney would greet the mailman each day, and if there was a donation would ask him to come back in an hour so he could take the thank you letter. I don't think most mailmen would agree to that but Fr. Deeney had a way of making people say 'yes'! He had his own special way, in sales jargon, of "assuming the sale."

Case in point is this e-mail just three months before his death:


Thanks for your latest letter. I am into the Romero book. Great! I saw the film some years ago.

I have a job for you. I know that you are extremely busy, but they say that if you really want a job done, find a busy person. Greg (Greg D'Silva, SJ) has been after me to get more help to him for the Pandabir school. I cleared it with the Provincial and have prepared an appeal which I am sending here as an attachment. I am hoping that you can add a photo or two to it. A great one was the faces of all the boys looking into the camera at Pandabir. Then perhaps you (or Johnny) can add a note from yourself telling that you visited the site and saw the need. For this purpose you will probably have to put my appeal in a smaller font.

When you have the appeal set up, I would
appreciate it if you would run off copies. I will give you the number within a day or so. A lady in my sister's parish, Beth McCarthy, has a girls' group who are interested in prayer and who meet once a week. I asked her and she agreed that I would send on the names and addresses to her and she would have the girls address the envelopes - hand written. People are more likely to read such letters and not throw them away as junk mail.

Presumably some/many parents would know MBS, my Uncle, etc., hence I have thrown those details into the appeal. I know that this will be not only time consuming but...

Christ's Peace!

John, sj

And that was that. How could I say 'no'? Assume the sale indeed Fr. Deeney ;-)When I told an acquaintance of his death yesterday he asked me his age, and then when had he retired. I just laughed -- most Jesuits I know never really retire. If physically able they work in some capacity until they have one foot in the grave. Then the rector or provincial asks them to do a little more until both feet are in. Always the Magis.

But Fr. Deeney was a fundraiser because he realized that donations were needed to continue to help souls in India. But that was just a part-time job for him. Fr. Deeney was one of a handful of Jesuits from the Maryland Province entrusted to help spread the Gospel of Christ in Jamshedpur, India. And what a fine job he did! His whole life would be dedicated to the Hos -- a proud tribe of 1 million -- whose (yet unwritten) language resembled those of Cambodia and Vietnam rather than Hindi. As a parish priest in Chaibasa, Lupungutu, Basahatu and Pandabir/Border he helped convert them to Catholicism, thus earning the above title "Apostle to the Hos in the Kolhan." Initially many of the Hos were reluctant to become Catholics as they thought this would take them away from their tribal identity. Like his spiritual ancestors, Fr. Roberto de Nobili, SJ and Fr. Matteo Ricci, SJ, Fr. Deeney helped assuage their fears and through inculturation helped them convert while saving their wonderful Ho customs. He admitted that he was not "the typical missionary of the St. Paul, St. John deBritto mold. My whole thrust was to make our Catholics strong in their faith. If they are strong, they themselves become apostles. On the other hand if our Catholics are weak in their faith and dispirited, there is no point in adding to their numbers. I knew every house, practically every person by name." And he got to those houses by riding a bicycle (until his mid-seventies) on some of the worst roads I've ever seen ;-0

Along with Fr. Carl Dincher, SJ they were able to spread the Faith far and wide, sometimes training catechists with filmstrips by using the Jeep's battery. After Vatican II it fell upon Fr. Deeney to translate the Mass into the Ho language, and that he did, and had to send the translation to the Vatican for approval. As Fr. John Guidera, SJ panned no one in the Vatican spoke or read Ho so they simply gave the imprimatur... with Guidera calling it the "High Ho Mass." Fr. Deeney wrote the first Ho-English dictionary, grammar book, Ho Prayer book, Ho Bible History, the translation of the New Testament, Ho Translation of the Psalms and Prophets of the Old Testament... and many others. He was, simply, a man for and with Ho Tribals for half a century.

"I came in contact with Fr. Deeney, who has spent all his life amoung the Hos and who has indeed become their patron. In the long discussion I had with him, he dwelt upon several aspects of the Ho Mission; the tribe as a whole, their language, their locale, their customs, the mission method that could be followed, etc. The enthusiasm he manifested and deep concern that he showed moved me very much and I on my part promised to do what I can for them."

Fr. Shilanand Kamath, SVD

And so a great man, a great Jesuit, was laid to rest today. This from the Socius of the Jamshedpur Province, was forwarded to me by Fr. S Tony Raj, SJ:

The Provincial and Curia wish to thank all who sent in messages of sympathy.

This is also to inform you that the funeral of Fr. John Deeney will be held on Friday, 22,
January 2010 in St. Xavier’s Church premises, Chaibasa. The time of the funeral will be announced later once we have lined up arrangements. It does appear that it will be in the second half – around 2 p.m. or so.

The place has been changed from Mango to Chaibasa: this is to accede to John Deeney’s own request of being laid to rest in Chaibasa and keeping in mind that Fr. John Deeney has been looked upon as the “ Apostle of the Hos” in the Kolhan area.

This morning at 9 the newly acquired forty-seater bus from XITE left the Provincial’s Curia with the contingent of novices, Jesuit priests and scholastics, and sisters from different congregations. There were several four wheelers in the convoy : One from Bishop’s House with the Vicar General, one from the Curia driven by the Provincial with Frs. George Deeney, John Guidera, Br. Pascal Kerketta, another one from Loyola with Br. Maxi at the wheel and still another from XLRI with Frs. Sirinus and Co.

It was heart- warming to see the Ambulance that carried the mortal remains of Fr. John Deeney to Chaibasa. It was attractively decorated. There was a bust size colored photo of Fr. John Deeney mounted just above the wind shield of the ambulance.

There was a forty five minute delay in the departure time. One could not have asked for a lovely, cool day - bright and sunny - carrying with it the pleasant feelings that come from a drop of the mercury during the night – 7 degrees Celsius.

The funeral cortege will be met at high noon at the top of the road leading to St. Xavier’s Church by the faithful who will escort it to the parish. There in the presence of the Provincial the body of Fr. Deeney will be anointed and dressed in the tradition of the Ho culture – a ritual that could take 20 minutes, before it will be taken for viewing. The Solemn Eucharist is scheduled to start at 2:30.

At this point one could only admire and applaud the whole hearted co-operation and collaboration of the Diocese and the Jesuits - as though Fr. John Deeney “belonged” to all!

We hope to give the entire coverage by night fall or by dawn tomorrow

With kind regards,

Cassel, SJ

The following is an excerpt from my last letter to Fr. Deeney, which unfortunately did not arrive in time for him to read:

I have travelled as much as the next guy, and it seems that many of the trips and the memories blur into one another. All except India. Those memories of spending time in Lupungutu with you and our Jesuit friends will be ingrained upon me forever. As you know from Johnny breaking down after Mass words cannot adequately describe what it was like to attend Mass at St. Paul Miki in Border; the individual greetings from each and every Ho parishioner, the beautiful Mass concelebrated by you, Greg, Martin, Hilarius and Romo. Br. Bene singing the Animi Christi in Ho, the wreaths, the dancing, the love – almost like it was yesterday. Our daily Masses with you in that small chapel (we dubbed it Our Lady of the Astroturf – after the floor). Helping you vest before Mass. Being exposed to a different style of Catholicism – every bit as Catholic, just not as Romanesque as we
were used to. Our trip to Queen of Peace in Basahatu, where we saw the blueprint for what St. Paul Miki could become. Being welcomed into the LPG Jesuit community… talking, joking, praying, eating together; your birthday Mass – seeing how happy you were to be the main celebrant with 26 of your Jesuit brothers and the six of us; the talking birthday card! The basketball game at St. Xavier’s, Americans versus the Indian Jesuits, with the kids rooting against us and, how shall we say, not exactly keeping the right score!!! Sitting at the kitchen table, you me and Johnny, just talking; kneeling for your final blessing at Loyola High School before we left for Kolkata. Please know that your death will not diminish my love for the Jam Jesuits and the Hos, and I shall do my best to ‘set the world on fire’ with their story, culminating in the building of the new St. Paul Miki School and Church.

It saddens me to know that we shan’t see each other again, at least in this lifetime, as your condition worsens. I shall miss you but I know exactly where you are going. I shall miss our conversations, our e-mails, the assurance that you, your friendship and your spiritual wisdom were but a mouse click away. Yet my sadness is tempered as we both believe in the Christ that suffered and died on the Cross for our sins. That He rose from the dead so that we could have a chance at everlasting life. That He will remember you as His loyal servant. I remember the story you shared with me about reading a book in the living room as your mother prepared dinner. That although she couldn’t see you from the kitchen – she was buoyed by the fact that she knew you were close-by. Please continue to pray for me, for us, always Fr. Deeney. Perhaps someday I’ll be sitting outside the Church of the Gesu, waiting to pick up Teron at The Prep, and the Route 15 Trolley will go down Girard Avenue. I’ll hear the bells and know that you are seated at the right hand of God… still watching over me, over us – but still close-by.

AMDG / Jisu Marang ka / Christ's Peace!

Tom Brz (Fr. Deeney's abbreviation for my way too long Polish name ;-)

Fr. Deeney knew he had a vocation but was unsure whether to join the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where his uncle, Monsignor John Daly was a priest at Most Blessed Sacrament, to become a Vincetian priest -- the order who ran Immaculate Conception Parish in Germantown, or to become a Jesuit like the priests that operated his high school St. Joseph's Prep. In his autubiography he stated that he received a clear message from the Holy Spirit that he should become a Jesuit. "I had no vision, heard no voice, but there was a sudden deep conviction about which I could have no doubt that I should be a Jesuit. I remember the exact place I was standing when that happened..."

In one of our numerous e-mails I asked him if he could fill in the blanks for me.

About my vocation. While I was alone, quieting 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.

Again, again and again thanks, Tom, for all that you are doing to help our work in Jamshedpur, and for all that you do for God's glory.

Christ's peace!
John, sj

I'll close with the words of condolence from the Deeney Family, written by Johnny Gill, and read today at Mass by Fr. Jerry Cutinha, SJ, concelebrated by over 100 priests with over 2,000 mourners:

Greetings to the parishioners of St. Xavier’s, friends of Fr. Deeney, and his Jesuit brothers present here today. We, Fr. Deeney’s family, wish to express our deep appreciation for all the love that you have shown to our dear Uncle John throughout his many years in India, especially during his difficult final month.

The distance between Philadelphia and Jamshedpur is approximately 13,000 km. But due to the diligent email correspondence of many, especially Fr. Eric Cassel, S.J. and Fr. Jerry Cutinha, S.J., we were made to feel close to the situation and were constantly informed of his ever-changing health status. More importantly, we were comforted that his Jesuit brothers were caring for him and doing all that they could to ease his pain. We wish that we could be there with you today to mourn and to commend his soul the Lord. But given the great distance, we will mourn here and celebrate his life in our own way with a Memorial Mass in his honor.

Many years ago, Uncle John made it clear that it was his desire to spend the rest of his days in India and to eventually die there. He was happy to come back to America to visit us every few years. But he was always eager to get back to his work, his people, his community, in India. In 1991, he denounced his American citizenship and was granted Indian citizenship. We imagine this to have been a joyous day for him. Surely he fancied himself an Indian long before then, but on that day he had the paperwork to prove it. Fr. Greg D’Silva, S.J., told Uncle John’s grand-nephew Johnny Gill during his 2008 visit to India that “In many ways, Fr. Deeney is more Indian than we.” Uncle John’s desire to spend his life working with and for the Ho people, lends credence to Fr. Greg’s words that day. We truly treasured his home visits to Philadelphia. But we know that his real home was here in Chaibasa, where he will be laid to rest here today.

As we reflect on Uncle John’s life, we see clearly that we, and you, were blessed to have been in the presence of a true saint. He sought no glory, notoriety or praise. Everything he did was “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” – For the Greater Glory of God. We will hold up his life’s work as a beacon that we can look to when we are feeling weak, encumbered, or put-upon, and use it as motivation to improve ourselves and our relationship with God each day. We hope that you too can take Uncle John’s life into your hearts and go forth filled with the Spirit!

So again, thank you to all present today. In some way, each of you helped to make our Uncle John’s life here in India happy, and profoundly meaningful. May God bless each of you. And as Uncle John assumes his rightful place in Heaven, no doubt receiving a congratulatory hug from St. Ignatius himself on a job well done, may he continue to affect each of you through his prayerful intercession.

Jisu marang ka!


Fr. Deeney’s family

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

All are most welcome to attend the Memorial Mass for Fr. Deeney at Saint Joseph's University next Saturday, January 30th, at 11:00 AM.
It was Fr. Deeney's dying wish to see a new school built for the Ho tribal children at St. Paul Miki's in Pandabir. Should you be able to help us make that wish come true please click Appeal for the St. Paul Miki School in India to find out how to donate.


  1. Tom,

    I tried to send a few photos and that attempt was a failure...
    I am trying again....and I am attaching just three photos to see whether it would work...
    I am yet to gather my will take some time for us to accept the fact that he is no more with us...
    love in Christ,

    Peter Martin, SJ

  2. Tom,

    Thank you for your heart-felt words on the death of Fr. John J. Deeney, S.J. As a kid growing up in Most Blessed Sacrament Parish (MBS}, the folks supported the ministry of Fr. Deeney. His uncle was the long time pastor - Msgr. John J. Daley, P.A. In the back of the church there was an offering box for the Jamshedpur Missions. In addition, special collections were frequently taken up. On several occasions, Fr. Deeney was "home from the missons" and preached on his ministry. You could tell even then, that he was physically "here" but his heart was "back home."

    A few years ago at O.L of Grace, Somerdale, I met a couple and the wife was from Jamshedpur. The wife and her family knew Fr. Deeney very well.... Shows how small the world really is. May he rest in peace.

    Fr. Mike Hegarty

  3. Tom,

    I saw the news on Fr. Deeney last nite on my way out the door headed toward mass; your tribute was touching -another Kleenex moment when I read your letter.

    I have a favor to ask- could you keep my father in your prayers. My father was diagnosed 7 years ago with a chronic form of leukemia though it's not common knowledge outside the family. A recent test came back poorly which is going to result in additional tests in early February but it seems he will require Chemo thereafter. We'll know more after the tests. I appreciate it.


  4. Tom,

    Very sorry to hear that the world has lost the grace and gifts of Fr. Deeney. How great to enter heaven with such a legacy left behind!

    Jimmy Mack

  5. Tom- very sorry to hear about 6th man's Uncle, Fr. Deeney's passing. He was truly a devoted Jesuit priest who served his fellow man.

    Great to see St. Joe's on national TV- a great thriller against the Flyers! Also, the new Hagen Arena looks very impressive.

    Take care!
    cousin Joey

  6. Tom - such a beautiful overview of Father John J. Deeney, SJ and his funeral services. Father Deeney is (was) such a special missionary and person. Let me know if I can provide any assistance for Saturday's memorial Mass.



  7. Tom,

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)

    Joe Cabrey

  8. TB:

    Attached is the paper Kevin wrote about Fr. Deeney. The topic was "someone who I think is courageous". This effort garnered him a 96. Near perfection, just like the subject. Please let us know when the Mass will be. We would like to be among those who gather to remember him. Hope all else is well.



  9. Thanks very much Johnny for your words of condolence and the honor to read the eulogy to the people gathered on behalf of Deeney family.

    I missed a great personal friend with whom I used to spend hours sitting and sharing.

    People in Chaibasa are making elaborate arrangements for the funeral. We from Jamshedpur leave Jamshedpur by 9 am with the body to reach Chaibasa by 12.30 pm.

    2 pm is the funeral and burrial close to Chaibasa Parish Church where John Deeney began his priestly ministry. People in Chaibasa want to confer this honor to him by laying to rest close to the church (not in the usual cemetry) so that he could be with them close to them and pay their respect to him whenever they come to Church.

    I will give you the details of the funeral tomorrow after we return to Jamshedpur at night.

    Thanks Johnny.

    Jerry Cutinha SJ

  10. Dear Nancy, Ed and Gerry,

    Peace and thank you for your gracious note. I like to think I am a good friend of your Brother John. In large meaasure (after my parents) he was responsible for my vocation to the Jesuits. We became good friends when

    he was a regent at Scranton. He taught us Pennsylvania History. But we played basketball together, walked together, practicved oratoria together. He used to visit my home.

    I think when I was thinking of what I wanted to do with my life, I reasoned I want to be like John Deeney. He left Scranton in 1949. And after that our paths never crossed again. He was in India and I in Chile. Our visits to the States never coincided.

    We usually kept in touch by mail or more recently by e-mail. I have never forgotten the importance of his presence in my life, and I am always most grateful to him. He was a role model for me as a missionary.

    I offer you my condolences, but we all know that he is with God.

    Gene Barber,sj

  11. TB:
    It is a sad day. I am sad for all of those folks in India that have come to rely on Fr. Deeny for their spiritual enrichment, and far more.

    Please give my best to John and his family, they have lost a remarkable part of their family.

    I know you have developed strong feelings for Fr. Deeney over the past few years and during your visit there. Respect. Admiration. Awe. You have extended his voice and mission far beyond the villages of Jameshedpur, and for that you should be proud.

    I would like to think that among those welcoming him home on Monday were our mothers, for whom he offered his prayers and Mass.



  12. Sadly, we must tell you, who were so privileged to be on his mailing list, that our brother, John Deeney,SJ died yesterday morning in a hospital in Jamshedpur, India. While we will no longer receive his uplifting, prayerful messages, we know that his intercession will always be there. Please keep him in your prayers and please do what you can to see to it that his dying wish, to have a school built in the village of Pandabir, India, comes to fulfillment.

    Nancy Curtis, Ed and Gerry Deeney

  13. Tom,

    Thank you for sharing your emails from Uncle John and the kind messages from others. Reading these messages lifts the spirit. You were a great friend to him and a great advocate of his work. I always felt that when Uncle John came to stay at my Grandparents' house, it was like having Christ Himself staying with us, praying with us, holding our hands. It was never an option to say - What can one person accomplish? or How can one truly live like Christ? Now to take Uncle John's life into our hearts and go forth filled with the Spirit!

    I am hoping to unpack this morning and will drop off your package to Johnny some time today.


  14. Tom:

    I'm so sad. Thanks so much for your e-mail. I will love to read through your letters and I promise that I will send you some of mine. I laughed when I read about your holding onto things. I counted - I saved 44 e-mails from him and I even have some others that I printed and deleted. It makes me understand how they can compile volumes of letters that saints wrote. Because once you receive a letter from a saint, you know, even in your humanity that it is special, and you don't want to let it go. I'm so thankful now that I saved so many, and I promise to send you the best of mine (but I wouldn't want to burden you with reading all 44!!! haha!!!)

    It has been a great gift to meet you in working together for our friend. I know he will look down on us.

    You know I had just heard from Andrew Dierkes late last week saying they scheduled his fundraiser through the development office late Jan or beginning of Feb. I was so happy they were going to do this for Father John's school at the Prep. Nancy Curtis said there will be something for him either at the Prep or the University. I assume you will know even before me, but I know I will see you there.

    Thanks again for thinking of me and sending these special e-mails.


  15. Dear Tom,

    I know you grieve as we do and feel the heartbreak as well. Thank you so much for sharing these emails. I am sure you will also receive condolences from the many people who know of your love and devotion to Uncle John. I am sure they will offer many thanks to you for introducing them, either in person or electronically to John Deeney, sj. It is very clear that you held a special place in his heart and in his prayers. We were, and will continue to be, blessed by his presence in our lives. He was a great brother, uncle, friend and most importantly, Jesuit priest to us all.

    I will see you at the Memorial Mass.

    Theresa Roney

  16. Tom--

    Thank you for passing this sad news to me; we have lost an angel here on earth, a true man living for others, working for others, being for others. John Deeney, SJ was one of the most Ignatian Christians I have ever had the privelage to come to know.

    We have been exchanging letters electronically for awhile. Fr Deeney has been heavy on my mind these past several days (strange but true, despite the coincidence); I had started composing another email to him and held off sending it Saturday night, but really didn't know why...I just did not send it. I'm sure he knows now.

    Thank you again.



  17. Tom:

    I will certainly keep him in my Masses and prayers. My deep to sympathy to you, because I know what a close friend he was. I have known him as legendary ever since I entered the Jesuits n 1950. My brothers, Joe and Rob, both spent time with him in India.


    Charlie Currie, S.J.

  18. Kindly accept my sincere condolences and sympathies on the demise of our loving Fr. John Deeney.

    I learnt HO language from him in Jan 1986 and have been associated with him since then. I saw him last on 7th decmeber in Jamshdpur after a long gap of 10 years and we both had truley refreshing memories and wonderful time
    together sharing of the missiion that was so dear to him.

    He was our apostle of the HO Mission. I work in Orissa. Iam an SVD priest and was very close
    him. I deeply admired him for his commitment for the ho people = MARVELLOUS. You all should be all proud that you had a such a noble and
    saintly soul in your family.

    My sympaties and love again to all of you,
    with support of prayers,

    Bptist D'souza, svd

  19. was so saddened to hear of Father Deeney's death. We were blessed to meet both him and your mom a few years ago. My dad, Maron Brady, was a classmate

    of Fr. John at LaSalle. Our entire family feels privileged to know him, and

    We will all sorely miss his inspirational letters. Our deepest condolences go out to your family. Please let us know if a memorial service will be scheduled. We know his last wish was to build a school, and we will continue to donate to this cause in his memory.

    With affection,
    Kathy Wangenstein

  20. Thank you so very much for the notification that Fr. John died in Jamshedpur.

    I did receive his brief Christmas e mail noting his inoperable cancer. God was good with taking him without a long suffering; yet he had time to know that he would meet the Lord sooner rather than later.

    What a blessing......................the eternal reward.............for a wonderful and holy Jesuit. Was a privilage to care for him years ago at Manresa Hall and to know him then and thereafter through his e mails. Always he had a spiritual reflection for all of us.

    May he rest in God's peace and joy and be in our hearts and prayers forever.

    Maryann RSM

    P.S. If there is a memorial service in the Philadelphia area, I would like to attend if possible. Can you let me know please.

    Sister Maryann Burgoyne RSM

  21. was deeply saddened to hear of Father's death. He was truly a great, great man and I'm sure he is enjoying a well-earned reward in the highest place in heaven.

    He taught me at Scranton Prep before he left for India. He is highly regarded by myself and others here in Scranton.

    > Lewis C. Druffner MD, Avoca, Pa

  22. Many thanks for the note about John. I want to say that it is sad, but I know that John would want us to know his homecoming is glorious. It is hard to believe that it has finally come -- I'm sure especially for all of you family who are so dear to him. I got to know John a little in Jamshedpur in 2000 before I joined the Jesuits, and then on his return visits when I was a Jesuit scholastic from 2002 until 2009 (sadly no longer).

    He was a wonderful man and Jesuit. He and the Jamshedpur missionaries are great heroes of mine. I attach one photo I took several years back at St. Ignatius in Baltimore with Frank McGauley (now also gone home), and John Henry
    (Chile, but now in Baltimore I hear). If you send me a mailing address I'll gladly send this print on to you, and at some point (before long) can even do a better computer scan.

    Please forgive the quick and dusty copy. God
    bless you all in this challenging time.

    With prayers,
    Ian Mitchell

  23. Dear Tom..

    I was so sorry to read of Father Deeney's passing. I know how much you cared for him, and after reading some of his letters to you it was obvious the feeling was mutual. He of course has gone on to his great reward, which is so greatly deserved, we both know that it's always good to have another friend in "High Places", may he rest in peace, but continue to watch over his people in India.

    You are both in my thoughts and prayers ..

    God Bless,


  24. Tom, Thank you for the news about John Deeney. Great soul. RIP.

    I passed on word to the others (5 of us now left) who entered W'ville in 1939.

    T.Toland, sj

  25. Hi Tom!

    Please accept me sincere condolences for the loss of your close friend and spiritual leader, Fr. Deeney. I enjoyed the many ways he dedicated himself to a much greater good! I'm sure you will always be very proud and thankful for the difference he made in your life. I know this was a personal loss and will naturally take some time to accept.

    Thank you again for allowing many of us to be a small part of his life and journey. He willl always be an inspiration for real giving and Jesuit values. Have a great day, Tom.

    Francis J. Lojewski