Father Declan Madden, OFM, 85, a professed Franciscan friar for 63 years and a priest for 59 years, died on July 18 at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center, Lafayette, Colo.
Declan was born on Aug. 6, 1920, in Titusville, Pa., to Lawrence and Helen (Coady) Madden, where he was baptized James on Aug. 22 in St. Titus Church. He attended the parish parochial school and St. Joseph’s Academy High School before entering St. Joseph’s Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1935.
He took the name Declan, the name of an eighth-century bishop of Ireland, when Jerome Dawson received him into the Franciscan Order on Aug. 12, 1941 in Paterson, N.J. On Aug. 13, 1942, he professed first vows in Paterson before Mathias Faust and professed final vows on Sept. 17, 1945, at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., before Bertrand Campbell. He completed his philosophical studies in Croghan, N.Y., and Butler, N.J., and his theological studies at Holy Name College. Archbishop Amleto Cicognani ordained him a priest on June 14, 1947, in the Church of Mount St. Sepulchre, Washington, D.C.
Declan’s first assignment was associate at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Mass. In 1949, he was transferred to St. Anthony Parish in Butler, N.J., as parochial vicar. In January of 1950, he arrived at St. Elizabeth Friary in Denver and spent the rest of his life in Colorado. He originally was assigned to a traveling preaching ministry as a member of the Western Mission Band. He was guardian of St. Elizabeth Friary from 1970 to 1973, and again in 1977, after the death of Eugene Dudley, until the friary closed in 1983
In addition to his duties at St. Elizabeth’s, Declan, acting as spiritual director of a fraternity of Secular Franciscans, would visit a local nursing home each week to say Mass, hear confessions and socialize with the senior citizens. During these visits, he sensed the lack of contact the residents had with the outside world, and so initiated the “Senior Roadrunners of Colorado” program. In November 1969, he charted two buses and brought 82 seniors from three homes for a ride in the mountains. Over the years, the program, sponsored entirely by free will donations, chartered anywhere from 25 to 30 buses to carry 1200 to 1400 people from 55 different nursing homes for various outings.
In addition to his nursing home apostolate, Declan worked in the Center for Creative Arts as operations consultant, writer and co-developer of programs involving the elderly. He engaged in his various ministries to the elderly until his death.
Declan’s Wake was held on July 23 at the Archdiocese of Denver Mortuary Chapel of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Colo. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on July 24. The presiding celebrant was Monsignor Thomas Fryar, general vicar for the Archdiocese of Denver. Concelebrating were Father Robert Fisher, pastor of All Souls Church, and David Hyman, representing Holy Name Province. Declan’s cremains were interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
May he rest in peace.