Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fr. Patrick Diver, SDB

Fr. Patrick Diver, SDB (1943-2011)

After a long bout with cancer, Fr. Patrick Diver, SDB, died early in the morning of August 6, 2011, at Fr. Hudson House, a hospice in Elizabeth, N.J. He was 68.

Fr. Pat (left) with Fr. John Grinsell in May 2006.

Father Tom Dunne, our provincial, said that in these final months of nearly 48 years of consecrated life Fr. Pat offered himself fully to God’s will and promise.

Fr. Pat was born in Boston on August 5, 1943, to Patrick and Mary Connolly Diver. Within the month he was baptized at St. Margaret’s Church in Dorchester, which remained the family’s parish.

Following his graduation from Don Bosco Tech in Boston in 1961, Patrick enrolled in Don Bosco College Seminary in Newton, N.J., as a candidate for Salesian life. In August 1962 he entered the novitiate, also in Newton, and made his first profession of religious vows on August 16, 1963.

Like all Salesian seminarians, Bro. Pat majored in philosophy at Don Bosco College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in June 1967. He minored in classical languages.

Having volunteered for the foreign missions, Bro. Pat was sent to the Philippines, where he taught at Don Bosco Academy in Pampanga, the province’s high school seminary, from 1967 to 1970. The students greatly appreciated him as a teacher and friend. One of them, Fr. George Militante, is now provincial of the South Philippines Province, and on Aug. 9 he wrote: "We, especially those who were under him in Don Bosco Juniorate, San Fernando Pampanga, remember him fondly and are grateful to him for a job well done as practical trainee."

At the same time he undertook a master’s program in guidance and counseling at De La Salle College’s Graduate School of Education in Manila, completing his degree in May 1970. One of the papers that he presented for the degree was titled “The Counselor in the Salesian System of Education.”

Bro. Pat returned to the U.S. in 1970 to study theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio. He was ordained in Columbus on March 30, 1974, and awarded a master of arts in theology from the Josephinum in June of that year.

Fr. Pat’s first priestly assignment was as dean of students at Don Bosco College in Newton (1974-1976). Twenty-one years of school apostolate followed, during which he ministered as a guidance counselor at St. Dominic Savio HS in East Boston (1976-1980), treasurer at Dom Savio (1980-1984), and director of the school (1989-1995); he was treasurer at Mary Help of Christians School in Tampa (1984-1988) and then principal there (1988-1989), and guidance counselor at Don Bosco Tech in Paterson (1995-1997). He later had another short stint as guidance counselor at Savio Prep in East Boston (2003-2004).

Fr. Pat made a lasting impression on the young men at Savio. One alumnus, C. David Surface, writes: “He was the most honest and caring priest I have ever known. His influence helped to shape my life both professionally and from a family perspective…. I will never forget him and how he made my days at Savio truly special.”

During his first assignment in East Boston he was certified as a school guidance counselor in Massachusetts (1978).

Fr. Pat worked in parishes, too. He was pastor of Mary Help of Christians Church in Manhattan for a year (1997-1998), associate pastor at Nativity Church in Washington (2002), acting pastor of St. Theresa’s Church in Leeds, Ala. (2003), and pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Elizabeth and director of the Salesian community there (2004-2010).

From 1998 to 2002 Fr. Pat was director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, coordinating a vast fundraising program in service to Salesian missionary activities all over the world.

In 2007, while he was pastor in Elizabeth, Fr. Pat was found to have colon cancer and went through a long treatment and recovery.

In the summer of 2010 Fr. Pat completed his pastorate and directorship in Elizabeth and was assigned once more to the formation of young Salesians as a very experienced and highly valued staff member at the Don Bosco Residence in Orange. Late in the spring of 2011 cancer returned in a very serious form. When treatment was unavailing, he entered hospice care.

Bro. Gus Ramirez, one of the young Salesians from Orange, said of him: “Fr. Pat Diver was a great example of perseverance and love for the young. I will always remember him as the vital man who loved the young to the last minute of his life.”

Fr. Pat is survived by his sisters Kathleen Tubman and Maureen Fitzgerald, both of the Boston area, and by his Salesian confreres of the New Rochelle Province.

Fr. Pat will be waked at St. Anthony Church in Elizabeth on the evening of Aug. 8 and the afternoon of Aug. 9. Fr. Tom Dunne will preside over the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Anthony’s on the 9th at 7:30 p.m., and Fr. Tom Ruekert will preach, at Fr. Pat’s request. On Aug. 10 Fr. Pat will be buried in the family plot at Newton Cemetery in Newton, Mass.

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