Died 28 February 2014
Jesuit Father Joseph D. Devlin died at Campion Center, in Weston, Mass., on Feb. 28, 2014. Born on Aug. 8, 1935, at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston, he was the fifth of seven children of Edmond and Evelyn (Murphy) Devlin. In 1941, the family moved to Portland, Maine. Fr. Devlin attended local Catholic schools in Portland and the Jesuits’ Cheverus High School.
On July 30, 1953, he entered the New England Province novitiate at Shadowbrook, West Stockbridge, Mass. He took first vows in 1955 and was in the juniorate in March 1956 when Shadowbrook was destroyed by fire. He finished his humanities studies at St. Andrew on Hudson, at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He studied philosophy at Weston from 1957 to 1960.
He spent regency teaching English and other subjects at Cheverus High School (1960-1963) and discovered a love for teaching. In the summers, he studied drama and theater at Catholic University in Washington. In 1963, he returned to Weston for theology studies, teaching at St. Mark’s Episcopal Prep School, setting up an anti-poverty program in Boston, an ecumenical seminar with ministers of the Concord area, and a group of “singing Jesuits” who performed for school and college audiences throughout New England. During these years he also earned a master's degree in English from Boston College and completed the requirements for his master's in theater from Catholic University. He was ordained in 1966 and stayed on for his fourth year of theology studies.
He then spent two years at the National Education Association in Washington (1967-1969) as a research associate in curriculum development and teaching innovation and led a task force on urban education for which he wrote the final report. During his Washington years, he also taught in the Antioch-Putney Graduate School of Education there. In 1969, he joined the staff of the New England Province office, first in charge of secondary schools, then for three years as director of province planning (under a very activist provincial, William G. Guindon), and finally as socius for his novitiate classmate, Richard T. Cleary. In 1976, he moved in an entirely different direction, becoming Catholic chaplain at Dartmouth College. He was rector of the Fairfield Jesuit Community from 1984 to 1990. After a sabbatical year, he directed the Newman Center at the University of Connecticut for a year, then became chaplain and a faculty member at Choate Rosemary Hall, a coed boarding school in Wallingford, Conn. When overwork led to health problems, in 1998, he left the school and spent a year in Pensacola, Florida, as a consultant in ecumenical affairs for Jubilee International Ministries, an organization that promotes bible-based, Spirit-led worship and ministries. From 1999 to 2006, Fr. Devlin did pastoral ministry in various settings, at the Jesuit Urban Center in Boston, a parish in Williamstown, Mass., and at a parish center in Dorchester helping poor women and children.
He moved to Campion Center in 2006 and to the health center in 2008. In the last months of his life, one of his visitors was Fr. General Adolfo Nicolás, who had become a friend when Fr. Devlin spent a semester in Hong Kong in the early seventies as part of his tertianship. Fr. Devlin died peacefully on the morning of Feb. 28, 2014. In addition to his many Jesuit brothers, He is survived by sisters Gertrude Devlin, Joan Frates, and Therese (TeeDee) Sweeney, and his brother Anthony Devlin. His sister Mary and his brother Edmund are deceased.