James Dean, OFM
1920 – 1986
Fr. James Dean, OFM, was born in Hannahstown, Belfast, Ireland, on July 25, 1920. His family moved to America and settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., and he graduated from St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., and entered the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., on Aug. 12, 1944.
He professed temporary vows Aug. 14, 1945, and made his profession of solemn vows Sept. 17, 1948. Fr. James was ordained a priest June 11, 1950.
From 1951 until 1962, he served in parishes and service churches, including those in Butler, N.J., Elmwood Park, N.J., Beach Haven, N.J., Callicoon, New York City, Providence, R.I., and New Bedford, Mass. In 1962, he went to St. Anthony Retreat House in Pittsfield, N.H., to give retreats, a work he truly enjoyed.
In 1966, he was assigned by the Provincial Minister to work with the Franciscan Pilgrimages at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manhattan. For the next 16 years, Fr. James rode buses across the country in every direction. He sang Irish songs, played the guitar, told jokes, prayed the rosary and shared his own joyful Franciscan spirituality with thousands.
He was a prayerful friar whose ministry touched the hearts of friars and people alike. He died at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City on June 22, 1986. He was 65 years old, a professed friar for 40 years and a priest for 36 years.