Denis Robinson, OFM
1883 – 1975
Fr. Denis Robinson, OFM, was born on Sept. 8, 1883 in Grand Haven, Mich. After studying literature and journalism at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he entered the seminary as a candidate for the priesthood in the Diocese of Detroit. He studied at St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Baltimore, and at Assumption College in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada.
He was received into the Franciscan novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1909, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in 1913 and was ordained in 1915.
Though his initial goal had been to serve as a missionary in China, Fr. Denis had become drawn to pastoral ministry. After three years teaching at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., he was sent to St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y., to teach. He later received permission to go to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City.
In 1937, Fr. Denis began his 33-year tenure at St. Francis Retreat House in Brookline, Mass. There he served in several positions, including as master of brothers, librarian and chronist, but his principal ministry was the sacrament of reconciliation. He was well known in the Boston area as a kind, patient and considerate confessor, and his clientele included many priests and religious. In 1970, he retired to St. Anthony Friary, St. Petersburg, Fla., and three years later, he moved to the Provincial infirmary at St. Bonaventure University.
He died on Sept. 30, 1975 at St. Francis Hospital in Olean, N.Y. Fr. Denis was 92 years old, a professed friar for almost 65 years, and a priest for 60 years.