1957 – 2016 (June 20)
John Thomas Denny was born on October 19, 1957, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was one of seven sons and one daughter of Joseph G. Denny and Mary K. Schubert. John was baptized at Saint Laurence Church, Upper Darby, Pa., on November 3, 1957, and attended Saint Laurence Parish School from 1963 to 1971. He then entered Monsignor Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1975. From 1975 to 1979, he attended Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he received a BA in History. He entered the Order at Good Counsel Novitiate, Lawrence, Massachusetts, in August, 1980, but withdrew the following March. He then worked for a year in a real estate office and from 1981 to 1985, taught at Monsignor Bonner High School. He re-entered the Order, and began a second novitiate, on August 15, 1985. He professed simple vows on August 2, 1986, and moved to Augustinian College, Washington, D.C. There he pursued theological studies at the Washington Theological Union, and received an MA in Ecclesiastical History. He professed solemn vows on May 20, 1989, and was ordained to the priesthood on August 18, 1990 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, by Bishop Howard Hubbard, bishop of Albany, New York.
Father Jack was first assigned to Saint Joseph Friary, Drexel Hill, and to Monsignor Bonner High School, where he served as a teacher from 1990 to 1999, as chaplain from 1990 to 1993, principal from 1993 to 1999, and school president from 1999 to 2001. In 2001 he was appointed the Province's Vocation Director, and a member of Fray Luis de Leon Friary on the campus of Villanova University. From 2002 to 2007 he was Adjunct Professor of Theology at the University, and chaplain of the University Law School. In 2004 he was assigned to the Saxony Hall community in Rosemont, and in 2007 he was appointed pastor of Saint Margaret of Scotland Parish, Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
When the Province withdrew from ministry in Maggie Valley in 2011, Father Jack was assigned as pastor of Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish, Bryn Mawr. In August, 2014, he was appointed prior of the community as well. For some time he suffered with ailments of the back and leg. Due to progressive weakness he moved to the infirmary wing of the Villanova Monastery on March 24, 2016. Shortly after, it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer. He underwent a series of treatments, and on June 13th was admitted to Bryn Mawr Hospital for additional tests. He died there peacefully in the early morning hours of June 20, 2016 accompanied by several friars and family members.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Friday, June 24, 2016, at Saint Thomas of Villanova Church, with Prior Provincial Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A. as celebrant and Joseph Mostardi, O.S.A. as homilist. The previous evening a Mass was offered at the Parish of Our Mother Of Good Counsel, Bryn Mawr, with Vicar General Joseph Farrell, O.S.A. as celebrant. A viewing preceded each of the Masses. Burial followed Friday’s Mass in the Augustinian Plot of Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pa.
Father Jack was a keen gardener and planted flower beds around the friaries where he was assigned. While at Monsignor Bonner High School, he assigned students in detention to care for these at the school. He was also a devoted student of American Presidential history and enjoyed visiting various significant presidential sites. He was possessed of a good sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and deep appreciation of, and dedication to, his vocation as an Augustinian and a priest.