Longtime Missionary David Babcock Dies

Maria Hayes and Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

ANÁPOLIS, Goiás, Brazil — David Babcock, OFM, 90, a professed friar for 69 years and a priest for 64, died on June 30 at Convento São Francisco de Assis (St. Francis of Assisi Friary). He was an alumnus of Holy Name Province and had belonged to its “daughter province” – Holy Name Province, based in the state of Goiás – since 1989, when the mission foundation in Brazil became independent of Holy Name Province, USA.

A viewing and funeral Mass were held on the day of his death at the Church of St. Francis in Anápolis. David was buried in the cemetery of the Seminário Seráfico Regina Minorum (Our Lady Queen of the Friars Minor Seraphic Seminary).

Early Years
David was born on Jan. 26, 1927, in New Castle, Pa., to Maurice and Bertha (née Casey) and baptized at St. Mary’s Church there on Feb. 27, 1927. He attended St. Bernard’s High School in Bradford, Pa., before entering St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1944.

He was received into the Order of Friars Minor on Aug. 12, 1947 in Paterson, N.J., taking the religious name Conran. He professed his first vows there the following year. David studied philosophy at St. Stephen’s Friary in Croghan N.Y., and Butler, N.J., earning his bachelor’s from St. Bonaventure University. He professed his solemn vows on Sept. 19, 1951 in Washington, D.C., and was ordained to the priesthood there by the apostolic delegate to the U.S., then-Archbishop Amleto Cigonani, on June 12, 1953.

Following ordination, David taught philosophy at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., from 1954 to 1956 while pursuing a master’s degree in the same subject from the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y. After completing his studies, David requested to serve as part of Holy Name Province’s mission in the state of Goiás, Brazil, which had been founded 12 years earlier. He arrived in Pires do Rio in 1957 and taught for two years at the recently constructed parish school.

From 1959 to 1960, David served as assistant pastor of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Goiandira before returning to education as assistant director of the parochial high school in Catalão from 1960 to 1963. For the next three years, he worked as a teacher in Anápolis at Colégio São Francisco de Assis (St. Francis College), a newly built secondary school that offered a one-year course that prepared students for a four-year secondary program.

In 1966, David began a long stint in parish work. He served as pastor of Our Lady Mother of God Parish in Catalão until 1973, and as assistant at Our Lady d’Abadia Church in Quirinopolis from 1973 to 1978. He returned to Pires do Rio in 1978, where he served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church for three years. During this time, he reverted to his baptismal name. From 1981 to 1982, he ministered as assistant pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Anápolis before returning to Quirinopolis as pastor from 1982 to 1986.

David returned to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Anápolis and was ministering there when, in 1989, the Goiás mission ceased to be dependent on Holy Name Province and became the Vice Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. The North American friars were given the choice of returning to the United States or remaining in Brazil as members of the new vice province. David was among the 23 North Americans who decided to stay.

He remained at St. Francis of Assisi Parish until 1999, when he was appointed vicar of St. Anne Parish in Anápolis. He briefly returned to education from 2007 to 2009 as a teacher at the Seminário Seráfico Regina Minorum, founded by Holy Name Province in 1951, while also continuing his ministry at St. Anne Parish. In 2009, he returned to St. Francis of Assisi Parish, where he served as vicar until he suffered a fall in 2014 that left him unable to walk. He retired to the Convento São Francisco de Assis, where he died.

Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York, NY 10001-3202.

Compiled by Maria Hayes and Jocelyn Thomas

Related Links