Br. Declan McCabe, OFM, 75, a professed Franciscan friar for 49 years, died on July 20 at St. Anthony Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Declan was born on Aug. 29, 1930 in Brockton, Mass., to James and Mary (née Allen) McCabe. He was baptized William on Sept. 11 in St. Edward’s Church, Brockton. He attended the Howard School in Brockton, Brockton High School for three years, and then graduated in 1953 from Newman Prep in Boston.
On Feb. 14, 1954, Declan entered the training program for Franciscan lay brothers at St. Stephen’s in Croghan, N.Y., where he learned various trades. On Jan. 24, 1956, he was received into the Franciscan Order at St. Raphael’s Novitiate, Lafayette, N.J., and on Jan. 26, 1957, he professed first vows there before Donald Hoag. On Jan. 26, 1960, he professed final vows at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, before Celsus Wheeler.
During his early years in the Order, Declan was assigned as supervisor of maintenance in various houses of the Province, from 1957 to 1960 at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., and then at Walsh High School in Olean, N.Y. While there, he studied at the St. Francis Hospital School of Practical Nursing and received his New York State nursing license in January 1962.
From 1962 to 1963, he maintained the physical plant of St. Francis of Assisi Church and Friary on West 31st Street in New York City. From 1963 to 1964, he was transferred to St. Stephen’s, Croghan, N.Y., as cook, while attending a cooking school. In December 1964, he was assigned to the care of the sick and infirm friars at St. Bonaventure Infirmary, Allegany, N.Y. In February 1971, he was licensed as a nursing home administrator by New York State, and became the assistant administrator of the Infirmary. From September 1975 to July 1976, he was again assigned to maintain the physical plant of St. Francis of Assisi Church and Friary, New York City.
After repeated requests over the years to volunteer for the missions, Declan was assigned in July 1976 to the parish of Santísimo Nombre de Jesús in Lima, Peru. There he worked generously and with great dedication to provide care for the poorest residents of the pueblos jovenes, the shantytowns that have grown up on the outskirts of the city of Lima. He establishished postas medicas (medical and dental clinics), day care centers and soup kitchens to serve the people. In this way, he sought to help heal the effects of malnutrition, cholera, tuberculosis, and the desperation of structural poverty. “As Franciscans,” Declan once said, “we should be working with the people who are poor. We should be working by our example.”
After almost 30 years in the missions, failing health caused Declan to return to the United States. He retired this June 12 to St. Anthony’s Friary, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Declan’s Wake was held on July 23 at Bret Funeral Home in St. Petersburg. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on July 24 at St. Mary, Our Lady of Grace Church, St. Petersburg. Andrew Reitz, the principal celebrant, and Christopher Coccia, both Provincial Councilors, represented Holy Name Province. Russell Becker preached the homily. Anthony Wilson spoke after Communion about Declan’s work in Peru. Declan was interred at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Clearwater, Fla.