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2/11/2014 9:34:00 AM
Franciscan who served at Oregon parishes dies

Franciscan Father John Francis (Sylvin) dePamelaere died Feb. 10. He was 95.

Born Jan. 26, 1919, in Redondo Beach, Calif., he grew up in Gardena, Calif. He graduated from high school in 1937, and found a job as a cement contractor, as well as with an oil well supply company, to support his younger brothers and sisters during the Great Depression.

He entered the seminary in 1940. He was ordained a Franciscan priest at the Old Mission Santa Barbara in 1950.

Father dePaemelaere immediately began work as a parish priest and hospital chaplain in Phoenix and then as a teacher, youth director and coach in Sacramento.

In 1953, his superiors transferred him to the Archdiocese of Portland, where he lived at St. Mary Parish in Shaw and taught at Sacred Heart Academy. On weekends, he assisted at St. Joseph Parish in Salem.

In 1954, he helped open Serra High School in Salem. There, he served as an assistant principal, teacher, athletic director and disciplinarian. He found time to be the parish priest in Shaw and Independence and was the chaplain for the Newman Club at what was then the state teachers’ college in Monmouth.

The priest was named principal of Serra High in 1958. He obtained an advanced degree in education and simultaneously served as chaplain at Chemawa Indian High School in Salem.

After declining enrollment caused the closure of Serra in 1969, he stayed on at Chemawa and was offered a position as a correctional counselor at Oregon State Penitentiary. That began a long career in prison ministry and working with parolees.

In 1991, having retired from corrections work, he moved to Portland and began training and mentoring young Franciscans. Through the years, he helped at more than 50 parishes around the region, from Astoria to La Pine.

Funeral Masses will be held in both Santa Barbara and Portland.

The funeral Mass in Santa Barbara will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 14 at Old Mission Santa Barbara, 2201 Laguna St., Santa Barbara, Calif.

A rosary vigil will be held at 6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, at Ascension Parish in Southeast Portland. A funeral Mass will be held at Ascension at 11 a.m., Monday, Feb. 24. 

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Article comment by: Rolando Rodriguez

As Francis of Assisi lay in the Portiuncula, awaiting his return Home, he said, "I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours to do." Our Franciscan family remembers Father John Francis (Sylvin) dePamelaere and joyfully sings: "Ultima in hora mortis, Filium pro nobis ora, bonam mortem impetra, Virgo, Mater, Domina."
Paz y Bien, Rolando, OFS.

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