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Declan McCabe, OFM

Declan McCabe

1930 – 2006

Br. Declan McCabe, OFM, was born on Aug. 29, 1930 in Brockton, Mass. After three years of high school, he entered the U.S. Army. When he finished his military service, he completed his high school education, graduating in 1953 from Newman Prep in Boston.

He entered the training program for Franciscan lay brothers where he learned various trades on Feb. 14, 1954, at St. Stephen’s Friary in Croghan, N.Y. Br. Declan was received into the Order Jan. 24, 1956, at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J., and professed first vows there Jan. 26, 1957. On Jan. 26, 1960, he professed final vows at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston.

During his early years in the Order, Br. 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 Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, N.Y. While there, he studied at the St. Francis Hospital School of Practical Nursing, receiving 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 in Manhattan. He was transferred in 1963 to St. Stephen’s in Croghan, as cook, while attending a cooking school. In December 1964, he was assigned to the care of the sick and infirmed friars at St. Bonaventure Infirmary in 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.

After his repeated requests over the years to volunteer for the missions, Br. Declan was assigned in 1976 to the parish of Santísimo Nombre de Jesús in Lima, Peru, where he worked generously and with great dedication over the years 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 established 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,” he once said, “we should be working with the people who are poor. Above all, we should be working by our example.” Br. Declan was totally committed to that work. He often spoke of his humble family roots and how proud and happy he was to have been able to do so much in his life for poor people. Br. Declan lived a very simple life himself — his only possessions were his beloved clock radio and some books.

After three decades in the missions, failing health caused him to return to the United States. He retired June 8, 2006, to St. Anthony’s Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla.

He died July 20, 2006, at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg. Br. Declan was 75 years old and a professed friar for 49 years.