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Six Jesuit priests in one Philadelphia home succumb to COVID-19

JESUIT PRIESTS COVID-19
Photos Courtesy of Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus
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The clergymen ranged in age from 77 to 93.

Six Jesuit priests who lived in a retirement facility in Philadelphia died from COVID-19 in April. The deaths represented one-third of the population of Manresa Hall nursing center, which is adjacent to St. Joseph’s University. All of the priests died in local hospitals.

The situation led to the closing April 17 of Manresa Hall after all the priests residing there tested positive for COVID-19. The residence reopened April 25, and Mike Gabriele, a spokesman for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, said the priests who have returned are in stable or good condition.

“All suspect COVID-19 cases are being monitored and appropriately managed at all Jesuit communities, and personal protective gear has been supplied to protect staff and residents at our health centers,” Gabriele told the New York Post. “The Jesuits mourn the loss of their brothers who have died, and they continue to pray for all those struggling with the Coronavirus and their caregivers.”

The deceased included Fr. G. Richard Dimler, S.J., who died April 14 at the age of 88. He taught German literature at Loyola College in Baltimore for two years and at Fordham University in the Bronx for 34.

“In 1999, while still at Fordham, Fr. Dimler transitioned into a role dear to his heart, a research professor of Jesuit emblem studies,” said a statement from the Maryland Province. “He would later publish books on the subject: Emblematic Images and Religious Texts and The Jesuit Emblem in the European Context.”

Fr. John Lange, S.J., 93, passed away on April 17. Fr. Lange served as the assistant director of the Jesuit Seminary Guild in Baltimore, as a minister at The University of Scranton, and as superior and treasurer of the Leonard Neal House Jesuit community in Washington, D.C. He then taught religion for three years at Georgetown Prep. In 1974, Fr. Lange returned to The University of Scranton for what would become a four-decade tenure. He would serve in several key roles, including as a counselor, chaplain for the evening school, pastoral minister, and university archivist. For nearly 40 years between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he served at what is now the Notre Dame de la Mer Parish in Wildwood, N.J.

Also passing away on April 17 at the age of 93 was Fr. Francis X. Moan, S.J. Fr. Moan taught Latin, Greek, and religion at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for ten years. Later, he was Headmaster at his alma mater, Loyola Blakefield in Baltimore, Assistant Dean at Saint Joseph’s University, and Headmaster at Xavier High School in Cincinnati. He was an editor for the National Jesuit News, Chaplain for the Georgetown University Law School, coordinator of the American Refugee Project, and superior of the Jesuit community on K Street in Washington. In the 1990’s, Fr. Moan continued his advocacy work for refugees, serving as the director of “Refugee Voices” at Gonzaga College High School in Washington. Then, in 1998, he moved to Holy Name Church in Camden, N.J., where he served in administrative and pastoral ministries for seven years.

Fr. John T. Kelly, S.J., died on April 18 at the age of 77. He taught social studies at Xavier High School in New York City and was director of counseling at Loyola College in Baltimore. After receiving his master’s in counseling/psychology, he became chairman of the counseling department at his alma mater, St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, where he remained for seven years, also teaching Latin. In 1985, he moved to The University of Scranton to serve for four years as the assistant dean of admissions. Then, heading to Washington, D.C., Fr. Kelly landed at Georgetown University, where he spent most of the decade, his first year as a counselor in the school of business and then eight years as a campus minister. Fr. Kelly’s next jaunt took him overseas where he spent nine years as pastor of St. Leonhard Parish in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2009, he returned to the States and served for a year as retreat director at Loyola on the Potomac Retreat House in Maryland before beginning a 10-year assignment in pastoral ministry at the Jesuit community at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Fr. Michael A. Hricko, S.J., died on April 24, at the age of 77. He taught religion for four years and served as chaplain at Loyola Blakefield in Baltimore, then served for a year as the vice-superior at the Ferdinand Wheeler House. He served at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for 15 years in a number of roles, including as a French teacher, rector, and counselor for students seeking college admission. He then taught religion at Scranton Prep for four years. In 2001, Fr. Hricko served the Maryland Province for two years as the provincial assistant of secondary and pre-secondary schools. He then came back to Philadelphia to serve parishioners for seven years at Old St. Joseph’s Church as parochial vicar. Later, he became minister at the Manresa Hall nursing center. In 2014, he became a sub-minister to the Jesuits next door at the Saint Joseph’s University Jesuit community.

Fr. Edward C. Dougherty, S.J., died on April 28, at the age of 79. Following ordination, Fr. Dougherty taught religion and Latin for six years at Georgetown Prep near Washington, D.C. Then, following several years in special studies, he taught Theology for a year at St. Joseph’s University before becoming socius to the master of novices at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, where he remained for four years. In 1990, he moved to the Manresa on Severn retreat house in Annapolis where he directed retreats for three years. He then took an assignment overseas that would last for 11 years, teaching scripture at the St. Joseph’s Theological Institute in Merrivale, South Africa. Later, he served two seven-year assignments at two Jesuit parishes — St. Ignatius in Port Tobacco, Md., the oldest Catholic parish in continuous service in the United States, and at Old St. Joseph’s Church, the city’s oldest Catholic church.

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