Denis T. Clark, OFM
1922 – 2005
Br. Denis T. Clark, OFM, was born on Aug. 30, 1922, in Providence, R.I. He graduated Mount Pleasant High School in 1940 and attended Providence College for one year. He then served in the United States Army during World War II for three years.
Two years after his completion of military service, Br. Denis became a Tertiary Brother in Paterson, N.J. On Aug. 12, 1949, Br. Denis received the Franciscan habit. He professed first vows Aug. 14, 1950, after which he was assigned to St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street in New York City. Br. Denis ministered there as the bookkeeper and treasurer of the friary, until he professed his solemn vows Aug. 13, 1953.
In 1953, Br. Denis volunteered to go to Brazil as a missionary, and for the next 38 years of his life, he dedicated himself to the missionary evangelization of the Brazilian people. He was assigned to the town of Catalao, where he studied the Portuguese language and came to love the Brazilian people and their culture. Br. Denis worked in the parish and high school and devoted himself to working with the poor for eight years.
In fall 1960, Br. Denis was assigned to Brasilia, the newly constructed capital of Brazil, where he initiated the Saint Francis Social Center and the Saint Francis Soup Kitchen. Br. Denis lived and ministered in Brasilia for 25 years, serving two terms as guardian of the community and twice as a definitor of the Brazilian Vice-Custody. In addition to his Mission responsibilities, Br. Denis served as the master of ceremonies for the archbishop of Brasilia.
The U.S. Navy honored him for his years of dedicated service in the Naval Hospital in Brazil, and made him an honorary chaplain for the services he rendered to the U.S. Marine Corps in Brasilia. In recognition for his work in Brazil, Pope Paul VI awarded Br. Denis the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, the highest honor the Church bestows on a religious.
When Br. Denis returned to the United States in 1990, he became one of the Mission Promoters of Holy Name Province, residing at St. Francis of Assisi Friary in New York City. He continued his missionary evangelization in the FMU office and on the road, preaching about the missionary activities of the Church and the Order. In 1991, Br. Denis was appointed director of the Union, and served as the secretariat for Missionary Evangelization of Holy Name Province. He worked tirelessly and generously, and countless people were supported through his efforts.
One of the original board members of the Franciscan Mission Service in Washington, D.C., Br. Denis was respected and loved everywhere he lived and served. Friars and people alike found in Br. Denis a friar of deep faith, winsome humility, quiet humor and steady perseverance.
Br. Denis moved to St. Anthony Residence in Boston and assumed the title of director emeritus of the Franciscan Missionary Union in 2003. He was transferred to Holy Name Friary on March 8, 2004.
Br. Denis died May 22, 2005, at Holy Name Friary. He was 82 years old and a professed friar of Holy Name Province for 54 years.