Declan Deane, who died in California on 12 December, had been an Irish Jesuit for over thirty years, before joining the diocese of Oakland. He is remembered with deep affection and regard by many friends, especially in N.Ireland, where he worked with the Irish School of Ecumenics. His talents were multiple, often unexpected: a national champion at Scrabble, a passionate observer of horses, a prodigious memory for cards at the gaming tables of Las Vegas, such that the bankers had him banned. But above all he was a priest, who during his struggle with esophageal cancer took on more and more ministry. A few days before his death he preached at all six weekend Masses, concelebrated three, heard confessions and greeted the parishioners at the door. His funeral was a huge and emotional occasion, as Donal Godfrey SJ reports:
Last Thursday I represented the Society at the Mass of Christian burial for Declan Deane. The Church of Christ the King in Pleasant Hill, where Declan had most recently served, was packed with two bishops, priests, and so many friends from the parishes where Declan had served. The homilist, Fr. Gerrry Moran in the Oakland Diocese and like Declan from Achill island, spoke of the life of Declan in very moving terms. We heard how at first Declan had objected to working with Gerry as pastor but eventually they became close friends. The homily was interrupted with applause on a number of occasions. The Bishop Emeritus, John Cummins, spoke of the wonderful Jesuit formation Declan had received, quoted Pedro Arrupe in connecting Declan’s strong social conscience and his gift of bringing contemporary theology alive to a wider audience. Declan’s brother John came from Ireland and told us how he had sent a card to Declan with a Christmas poem written especially for him that he discovered unopened in his room. John ended his words with the poem. Afterwards the parish held a wonderful reception and then we went to the Holy Angels Cemetery where Declan had told the pastor that he was very happy to be buried next to Frank Houdek, SJ, the man who had “saved him” when he went into recovery as an alchololic. On another note -we have been having wave after wave of rain storms, however for Declan’s funeral it was a sunny mild day. Declan must have arranged that for us as he always loved the sun! Ar dheis De go rabh a ainm dhilis.