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John B Valente, OFM

John Bosco Valente

1915 – 1998

Fr. John Bosco Valente, OFM, was born on Aug. 25, 1915 in Philadelphia. He was received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1934, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in 1938 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1941.

His ministry was mostly pastoral, except for brief academic intervals while he was acquiring a licentiate in sacred theology and taking courses at Gallaudet University for the Deaf. As a young priest, he experienced the hearing problems that steadily progressed to total deafness. Meanwhile, he served as assistant at parishes in Winsted, Conn., East Rutherford, N.J., New York City, the Bronx, N.Y., and Statesville, N.C.

For 42 years, Fr. John Bosco ministered at St. Francis Chapel, Providence, R.I., where his own deafness drew him even deeper into a compassionate ministry with his fellow handicapped. For many, he became an iconic figure, a source of encouragement, guidance and inspiration, a role model of joyful living within the inherent challenges of deafness, accomplished through well-developed coping skills joined to prayer.

His ministry was essentially connected to his work as moderator of the Providence diocese’s chapter of the International Catholic Deaf Association, and the diocese’s Apostolate for the Handicapped, especially through his regular Sunday Mass at St. Francis Chapel, which he celebrated using American Sign Language. The deaf understood that he was their priest.

He died in Rhode Island Hospital on Oct. 7, 1998. Fr. John Bosco was 83 years old, a professed friar for 63 years and a priest for 58 years.