Father Jacques DePaul died on October 25, 2015 at the St. Vincent monastery in LaTrobe, PA. His obituary can be read here.
“I was a convert… I went to mass with [the girl I liked] and she explained it too well.”
I grew up known Father DePaul as a distant cousin who was always kind and jovial. When I was little, he gave me an autographed picture of Mr. Rogers, who was from LaTrobe, where Fr. DePaul lives. I didn’t know much about his life’s journey, however.
Father Jacques DePaul was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936. In grade school he loved figure skating, and passionately told me of his favorite movie, the Red Shoes. He joined the St. Vincent Abbey in Latrobe, PA in 1964 to become a Benedictine Monk after studying in seminary in Detroit and Georgia.
Surprising for those who don’t know him, Fr. DePaul was raised Protestant. His conversion story is this: In high school, he met a girl he wanted to date. She was Catholic, and wouldn’t date him unless he’d go to mass with her. So he did. She went on to marry and have ten children, while he followed a newfound peace in the Catholic faith. In his words:
He is thankful for the life the Monastery has given him. Soon after joining St. Vincent, he was sent to teach english in Paris for ten years. He learned French, and took on the name Jaques instead of his given name, Jim. He was then sent to Rome to complete his Doctorate. Throughout his life, he studied St. Theresa, eventually becoming the world’s leading expert on her life. He was a regular guest on the Mother Theresa television program.
Today he is battling a bout of cancer, but even in this, the peace and joy his faith has brought him shows. Throughout the interview, he held his iPhone. I’d seen him communicate on it a bit beforehand. In his final remarks, he connected his love for Jesus to the distraction of the iPhone, in spite of his fondness for it.