On August 15, 2011, I entered the Augustinian Pre-Novitiate Program, which for me was not as big a step as one might imagine. After all, I had known the Augustinians since I had attended Monsignor Bonner High School and Villanova University. I was responding to what I took to be God's direction for my life at that time.
My years at the parish grammar school greatly shaped my faith and my vocation. Fathers George Callaghan, Alfred Natali and particularly my dear friend Bill Cleary inspired in me a vocation to Augustinian life.
Service to God the Creator in the ordained ministry of His Son’s Church seemed the best way to live out my fundamental sense of gratitude for all that I have been given in life.I discerned a desire for community life, as opposed to entering a diocesan seminary as my older brother had already done.
As the hymn says, “ 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.” I am where I ought to be. I grew up in South Philadelphia, eventually living in the parish of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine. Although I’d worked while in college at a department store and was offered a job after graduating, I decided to teach at my parish’s grade school. It was there I that I became familiar with the Augustinians.
When I was ready to enter high School, I was excited to learn I would attend a new high school opened in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, which was administered and staffed by the Augustinian Friars. I witnessed their life of community, of caring for each other and their example made such an impression, I decided this is how I wanted to spend my life.
On October 28, 1958, the same day that Pope John XXIII was elected, I entered the Order as a candidate for the brotherhood and began my pathway leading to life as an Augustinian Friar.
I am the only son among six children of Michael Hughes and Hilda Meade and I was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Educated in parochial schools of Philadelphia, I attended West Catholic High School and LaSalle Hall, graduating in 1958. In 1962, I encountered the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity. I was impressed with their spirit and tradition and joined their formation program. I attended LaSalle College and earned a BA in English, after which I taught for three years at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania.
But the pull of the Spirit toward priesthood was very strong...
Many times during my life, I have reflected on the question: Who am I? If I were to meet you personally and attempt to tell you who I think I am, what might I say? Who |s Fr. Jim? I am a creature, the son of a loving God, a human being completely dependent on God. I am, if I may borrow a page from Pope Francis, a forgiven sinner who has been graced and called to be an Augustinian friar and an ordained Catholic priest, gifts for which I am ever grateful.
Father Frank Devlin, O.S.A. was born on November 27, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Francis X. Devlin, Jr. and Margaret (O'Leary) Devlin, the only son in a family of six girls. He was educated in Catholic grammar schools and attended Monsignor Bonner High School, in Drexel Hill, from which he graduated in 1965. It was at Bonner that young Frank Devlin met the Augustinians, who then administered and staffed a student body of over 3,000 boys. At the time the Augustinian community at the school counted 45 friars.