Rev. Philip Devlin, C.S.C.
September 22, 1930-November 13, 2019
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Rev. (Thomas) Philip Devlin, C.S.C., 89, died on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind.
Fr. Devlin was born in Hale, Colorado on September 22, 1930 to Bernard and Mary Agnes (O’Rourke) Devlin. He attended local public schools until 1946 when he transferred to Holy Cross Minor Seminary from Wray High School in Wray, Colorado for his junior and senior years.
He entered the novitiate on August 15, 1948 and made his First Profession of Vows one year and one day later on August 16, 1949. After four years at Moreau Seminary and graduating from the University of Notre Dame, he began theology studies in 1953 at Grand Seminaire in LeMans, France. He was ordained on May 26, 1956 in LeMans.
Fr. Devlin spent the next year in study at the Angelicum University in Rome where he earned an STL in theology in 1957. His first assignment was to teach at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois for one year. In 1960, after two years of study, he earned a Master’s in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Michigan.
In 1960, Fr. Devlin was assigned to teach at St. George’s College in Santiago, Chile. He returned to Notre Dame High School in December of 1964 and taught there until 1967 when he returned to St. George’s for nine years (1967 to 1976). Following the military coup in Chile, he was exiled from the country and spent a year working in the Washington, D.C. office for the Church in Latin America. He returned to South America in 1977 to assist in the District of Peru. From 1988 to 1991 he served as district superior in Peru before returning to Notre Dame for the Clergy Renewal Program in the fall of 1991.
In 1992, Fr. Devlin returned to Peru for the remainder of his lifetime. He founded Colegio Fe y Alegría 25 in 1994. The school, which is located in San Juan De Lurigancho, Lima, Peru, serves about 2,000 students within parish boundaries, including pre-kindergarten, special education and technical job training students. Fr. Devlin entered Holy Cross House in 2019.
Preceding him in death are his parents, Bernard and Mary Agnes Devlin.
Visitation will be from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 17, 2019, at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, Ind., where there will be a Wake Service at 7:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 3:30 p.m. Burial will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at donate.holycrossusa.org
Funeral Homily by Rev. John Phalen, C.S.C.
November 18, 2019
Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame, Indiana
On behalf of the new District of Chile and Peru of the Congregation of Holy Cross and it’s Superior Fr. Pepe Ahumada, C.S.C.; and on behalf of the people of Canto Grande, Lima, Perú, I want to express our heart-felt condolences to the family of Fr. Phil Devlin as well as to Fr. Phil’s brothers in community in Holy Cross. We have lost one of our own, who did so much to preach the kingdom of God, the Kingdom of peace, justice, love and forgiveness, sometimes even using words.
Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., used to say he wanted his helpers who came to him from the Congregation to be men of the 3 C’s: competence, commitment and consecration. Fr. Felipe, as we knew him in Latin America, was that kind of religious and priest.
His competence showed as he was teacher, coach, director of studies at St. George’s College and Superior of the District of Chile. It also was evident as he protected members of the deposed elected government in Chile, teaching people agricultural skills that he knew and finally testifying before Congress about human rights violations in the military government. His clear competency was evident in all of this.
And when he was expelled from Chile his commitment was evident; as he arrived in Peru with boundless energy and passion, he was convinced that the Lord called him to advance the education of the people in the Canto Grande area. Last Friday we celebrated simultaneously two Masses of the Resurrection in two large chapels of our Lima Parish, The Lord of Hope. The part of the celebration that most impacted people, bringing back to their memories a sharp image, was the offertory procession in which the helmet Fr. Phil used when he rode his motorcycle was brought forward.
There were almost 1000 participants and when they heard I was coming to preach at the Funeral, they asked that I convey to you how very much they much they loved him. So I want to tell them right now that I did that: “ya les he dicho que realmente ustedes querían muchísimo al Padre Felipe”. He was somebody that perhaps at first sight seemed difficult to love. He disciplined them; taught them punctuality. I asked how many had ever been corrected or chided by him for being late and many raised their hands and everybody laughed. It was a man of commitment who built up a school out of a few original straw-mat buildings held up by wooden posts. In Padre Felipe’s way of looking at things, in justice the poor families of Canto Grande, struggling to carve out a living and to make a home on the desert hills in the outskirts of the city of Lima deserved to have their children educated in an excellent school with committed teachers, supported by committed parents. Fe y Algeria 25 (Faith and Joy school #25) was the result. Some say there’s more joy than faith in the school, I don’t find that to be my experience. Both elements are plentiful. Today the school is directed by Fr. Jorge Mallea, C.S.C., the first Peruvian priest of Holy Cross; and the huge parish that we have in Canto Grande, a geographical area that has over a quarter of a million people living there, is directed by Fr. José Luis Tineo, C.S.C., a graduate of this school. The school boasts a faithful alumni, well qualified teachers, a dedicated staff, a successful vocational school, a parent’s school, a Pre-K program, a parents gild, a special education program which has been going there since the beginning. Students too are committed and proud of what they are accomplishing. You can visibly see the change in their self-confidence as the years roll on. All this commitment comes from that of Padre Felipe. He was so committed he was willing at the age of 89 years to work in the copier room making copies for teachers and students and maintaining the copy machines. No work was beneath him. He did it all with great commitment.
But what impressed me most about Padre Felipe was his consecration, his spirituality, if you will. He came from a good family, a family of faith. His faith was practical not saccharine. He was not afraid to die. He requested to come to the Holy Cross House community. He always said “When the time comes I’m going there”…and he said once he got here –“ I’m not going to go back to Peru because I would be a public danger”. By that he meant that if he came back to Peru he would once again have to mount his motorcycle and his eyesight was going. He knew it would mean danger.
A voracious reader, he had read, heard and believed the readings just heard proclaimed, and his works showed he believed them. He believed that in death we will be changed, transformed in the blink of an eye. The corruptible will be clothed with incorruptibility. Death is swallowed up in victory. Where is it’s sting? Padre Felipe believed that in death he would see the glory of God. He believed that Jesus is the Resurrection and the life: that anyone who believes in Jesus, even if he dies, will live.
Padre Felipe believed in Resurrection and in new life after death.
In his consecration through his vows in Santa Cruz: vows of singular intimacy with God, a trusting dependence upon God: and an unfailing commitment to God, Fr. Felipe became an agent of resurrection for Canto Grande. His works involved resurrection as well, resurrection from the death of:
Ignorance; Lack of socialization skills; Lack of marketable vocational skills; Poverty; Tardiness and its effects; Lack of initiative to inform yourself (especially by reading) in order to analyze the social and political reality and to live according to the Kingdom.
This was all part of Fr. Felipe’s practical spirituality.
Jesus in the Gospel today speaks to his father: He says “I thank you for hearing me.” Then he explains he always knows that God, the Father, hears him, but he wanted to say that because he wants the people to see and believe in Him, and believe that Jesus was sent from God.
I think it’s appropriate to express a word of thanks to the staff, and the community members at Holy Cross House, who provided for Phil a wonderful and accepting community in his last months of life.
May he rest in peace!
Padre Felipe, you too were sent from God. Thank you for your competence, your commitment and your consecration. Thank you for your formative homilies, thank you for your hard work and your faithfulness to the task. Thank you too for the humility with which you chose to live your religious life. You showed us how to preach the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of peace, justice, love and forgiveness and, in imitation of Christ, sometimes you even used words.