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Fallece el P. Arthur Dennison a los 74 años

Fue sacerdote por casi 50 años, dejó una huella en estudiantes de Columbus

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MIAMI | Un amigo, sabio, mentor, un ser humano dotado, una bendición: Así es como colegas y exalumnos recuerdan al P. Arthur Dennison, un sacerdote arquidiocesano jubilado que falleció el 23 de abril de 2021, tras una batalla contra el cáncer.

Padre Arthur Dennison: Nació el 24 de enero de 1947; fue ordenado sacerdote el 2 de julio de 1973; falleció el 23 de abril de 2021.

Fotógrafo: FILE

Padre Arthur Dennison: Nació el 24 de enero de 1947; fue ordenado sacerdote el 2 de julio de 1973; falleció el 23 de abril de 2021.

El P. Dennison tenía 74 años y fue sacerdote por 47 años. Falleció en un hospicio en Cayo Hueso, donde ayudaba a la Basílica de St. Mary Star of the Sea, desde el 2013. El P. Dennison se retiró del ministerio activo en el 2011.

"Tuvo una gran semana de gracia", dijo el P. John Baker, párroco de la Basílica, en un correo electrónico enviado el 17 de abril. "Exalumnos, feligreses, sacerdotes, entre otros, vinieron a visitarlo y lo llamaron".

El P. John Baker viajó bastante. Se graduó de la Pontificia Universidad Gregoriana de Roma — donde fue ordenado sacerdote en la Basílica de San Pedro, el 2 de julio de 1973.  Después sirvió en la Arquidiócesis de Miami como secretario del Arzobispo Coleman Carroll (1974-76), director de la Oficina para la Vida y el Ministerio Sacerdotal (1995-2001), y fue párroco de St. Augustine, en Coral Gables (1986-96); St. Andrew, en Coral Springs (1996-2002); y Little Flower, en Coral Gables (2002-11). Anteriormente, fue vicario parroquial de St. Patrick, en Miami Beach (1974-76) y de St. Agnes, en Key Biscayne (1976-78).

También enseñó en las escuelas secundarias Immaculata-La Salle (1976-81) y en Christopher Columbus, donde dejó una huella indeleble en sus alumnos. Allí fue capellán de 1981 a 1986, pero siguió dando al menos una clase hasta el 2011, excepto los años que estuvo en St. Andrew.

"Como estudiante de Columbus, tuve la suerte de ser parte de la clase de religión del P. Dennison en el tercer año. Uno siempre asume una “A” fácil, pero no fue el caso. En cambio, el P. Dennison me enseñó las cosas más importantes sobre mí mismo, mi fe y me preparó para las cuestiones morales y éticas que la vida presenta", dijo Eduardo Llano, ahora arquitecto en Coral Gables.

Juan Vila, un graduado de 1997 que ahora trabaja como decano académico en Columbus, llamó al P. Dennison: "un amigo, sabio, mentor, un hombre con principios fuertes, un corazón bondadoso y fiel a su palabra".

El P. Miguel González, de la clase de 1986, ahora rector de la Catedral St. James, en la Diócesis de Orlando, dijo que el P. Dennison "tenía la elocuencia y el increíble don de ser brutalmente honesto con nosotros; desafiándonos a crecer. Su capacidad de predicación es un don que nos enganchó y conectó porque era breve, dulce y siempre iba al grano".

Raúl Rivero (izquierda) exalumno de la clase de 1984 de la secundaria Columbus, y su hijo Raúl Jr., estudiante de tercer año de la misma secundaria de Miami, lanzan la "C" de Columbus con el P. Arthur Dennison, durante una visita al sacerdote a mediados de abril, pocos días antes de su muerte, el 23 de abril de 2021, a los 74 años.

Fotógrafo: COURTESY

Raúl Rivero (izquierda) exalumno de la clase de 1984 de la secundaria Columbus, y su hijo Raúl Jr., estudiante de tercer año de la misma secundaria de Miami, lanzan la "C" de Columbus con el P. Arthur Dennison, durante una visita al sacerdote a mediados de abril, pocos días antes de su muerte, el 23 de abril de 2021, a los 74 años.

"El P. Dennison les hizo mucho bien a nuestros alumnos en Columbus", dijo el Hno. Marista Kevin Handibode, profesor durante mucho tiempo y antiguo presidente de Columbus, que ahora trabaja en la oficina de desarrollo del colegio. "Les enseñó a vivir su fe católica y a ayudar a los demás. Siempre estaba ahí para todos nosotros".

El Hno. Marista Michael Brady recuerda haber comenzado la pastoral estudiantil en Columbus con el P. Dennison en 1981. "Era una persona y un sacerdote maravilloso, además de un excelente profesor. Muchos de nuestros exalumnos y profesores han sido influenciados por él. Un ser humano dotado, su influencia ha dejado una marca indeleble en la comunidad de Columbus".

Nació el 24 de enero de 1947 en el ahora demolido Hospital St. Francis de Miami Beach. El P. Dennison era gemelo —su hermana, que falleció antes que él, se llamaba Mary Claire. Fue bautizado en la Catedral de St. Mary y completó el séptimo y octavo grado en la Escuela St. Rose of Lima, en Miami Shores. Inmediatamente después ingresó al Seminario St. John Vianney —entonces un seminario de secundaria. Completó su licenciatura en Filosofía en el Seminario St. Vincent de Paul, en Boynton Beach.

En 1970 fue enviado a Roma para terminar sus estudios de teología en la Pontificia Universidad Gregoriana, de la que también se licenció en Teología Dogmática. Antes de ir a Europa, pasó el verano de 1969 estudiando español en la Universidad Católica de Ponce (Puerto Rico) y trabajando en una parroquia de la República Dominicana.

Durante su estancia en Europa, de 1970 a 1974, viajó mucho durante los veranos. Trabajó en una parroquia de Liverpool (Inglaterra), pasó un verano en Francia aprendiendo francés e incluso, celebró Misa regularmente durante el curso escolar en la cárcel Regina Caeli de Roma.

"Durante mis años en Europa, he tenido la suerte de viajar por gran parte del continente", escribió en una biografía que envió al periódico de la Arquidiócesis, entonces llamado The Voice, unos meses antes de su ordenación. "Pasé gran parte de un verano en una gira arqueológica por Grecia y también viajé por los países comunistas de Europa occidental y Rusia con el Partido Comunista Italiano".

Raúl Rivero, miembro de la promoción de 1984 de Columbus, visitó al P. Dennison en Cayo Hueso este mes, llevando consigo a su hijo. Ambos se conocieron en 1982, cuando Rivero tenía 14 años y era estudiante de segundo año de Columbus. A lo largo de las décadas, dijo, "nuestra relación maduró y cambió de la de profesor/alumno a la de padre/hijo sustituto".

Calificó al P. Dennison como "uno de mis mayores y más influyentes maestros", destacando la "impresión indeleble" que el sacerdote dejó no sólo en él, sino, en innumerables personas. "El P. Dennison nos enseñó que la tumba no es el final, sino sólo el principio, y que nuestro amor mutuo trasciende este lugar y este tiempo y vive para la eternidad", dijo Rivero.

La Misa fúnebre por el P. Dennison se celebrará el miércoles, 5 de mayo, a las 4 p.m., en la Basílica St. Mary Star of the Sea, en Cayo Hueso. La asistencia es limitada debido a las restricciones del COVID. De acuerdo con los deseos del P. Dennison, la Misa no se transmitirá en vivo.

Actualización del 26 de abril 2021: Para dar cabida a las muchas vidas que el P. Dennison tocó en los condados de Miami-Dade y Broward, se celebrará una Misa conmemorativa (Month's Mind) en la iglesia St. Augustine en Coral Gables el lunes 24 de mayo de 2021 a las 7 p.m.

La iglesia Little Flower en Coral Gables también celebrará una misa conmemorativa el miércoles, 28 de abril, a las 7 p.m.

Cristina Cruz, directora de marketing de Christopher Columbus High School, contribuyó en este informe.

Comments from readers

John Balzola - 05/02/2021 02:24 PM
May he Rest In Peace. Father Dennison was our priest at St. Augustine during my formative, college years, and beyond. His outstanding sermons brought me and my family closer to God, and fortified my faith during very difficult times. He was a great example of what a religious leader should be. He was sorely missed since leaving St. Augustine, and my family is saddened by his passing.
Fr. Dr. Radoslav Lojan, Slovakia - 04/26/2021 01:56 PM
Fr. Dennison was my great friend, teacher and mentor. He loved being a priest in the very best sense of it. He was faithful til the end and I will miss him so much. May God rest his good and dear soul.
Catherine Shields - 04/26/2021 07:56 AM
RIP - God rest your beautiful soul Arthur... I’ll miss seeing you at the Basilica of St Mary’s Star of the Sea...
Maria Cruz - 04/26/2021 05:14 AM
What can I say that hasn’t been said already?Father D was an amazing priest who had a big heart. We were very blessed to have him as our Pastor at Saint Augustine’s where he taught us to look after the poor and needy anywhere they were! From helping Saint John Bosco build a “real” church building with a percentage of our collection, to supporting the orphanage in Haiti with the proceeds from our famous Golden Doughnuts, to always exceeding our share of the ABCD, to the scholarships to Catholic Schools, to our Stars and Angels, to supporting Boys Town, and many, many other projects, Father Dennison was there! The incredible thing is that he rarely asked for money! He had the gift to talk about the need and our parishioners always ended asking him how much was needed. I still remember the first time he talked to us about the children in Boys Town and how they were going to have a very boring and sad Summer because there was no budget for any activities. Before the last Mass that Sunday he had so much money pledged or donated that those children had a great Summer! How can I forget how he came up with ideas to bring the teenagers to church? There was always something exciting for them, of course after they attended Mass! What an impact he had on those young adults. In fact St A’s made one of our local newspapers as the place for teenagers to be seen! As to me and my family he was always there. I so loved to hear from him! There is a hole in our hearts now that will be filled when we meet again. May you Rest In Peace. Father D. Please don’t start getting projects ready for us to do as soon as we join you!
Gigi Fontanilla - 04/25/2021 04:49 PM
RIP Fr. Dennison, my ol boss, former pastor, great priest and amazing homilist. Thanks for giving me my first job with the Church and a being a great influence on me and my involvement in the Church. It went from being a hobby to a vocation in life. Thank you!
Laurie Dastugue - 04/25/2021 10:35 AM
Father Dennison was there for my husband when he wanted to return to the Church. We started attending Mass regularly, and loved it when Fr. Dennison presided. I converted to Catholicism in early March. Although we only knew him briefly, he was such a blessing to us. For the rest of our days, we will be grateful for having met him. May heaven be more glorious than even he could have imagined. With love and reverence, Laurie and Dane Dastugue Key West, Florida
Kathy Walls - 04/25/2021 09:46 AM
Such heartbreaking news to hear of the passing of theis dear priest! During my time in Key West, I was a volunteer at the prison ministry along with fFather Dennison. The inmates absolutely loved him as we all did. His talks i& his sense of humor was timeless ! His faith & love of the Lord resonated ...something I’ll always remember. You can rest now in the arms of Jesus, Father & fly w/ all the angels🙏💝✝️
Maria A. Garrido - 04/24/2021 07:41 PM
To my dear Fr. Arthur Dennison. May your soul be resting in peace with the Lord. You have been an exemplary person to all of us your students, and to me as a teacher at St. Theresa, when you were the pastor. You always inspired me as a student at Immaculata-LaSalle, and then as my pastor at St Theresa. You guided me with your meek and humble ways of keeping pteaching in the Catholic School system. Your Theology classes at LA Salle were superb, and always had a meaning. Being my Pastor, when I was the Math teacher at St. Theresa, always inspired me. You made me laughed when you addressed the students by stating that Geometry had a lot of meaning. I must tell you,that right now you are with my brother Rodolfo Gonzalez in heaven. He passed last year on 4/19/20 and you passed on 4/23/21. Rudy cared and loved you a lot. We had conversations in our family, as to how special you were, and still are. You did many humble and kind deeds, that only our Lord knows. You will be missed, but you won heaven on earth, Fr. Dennison. Thank you for all you taught us, and for your living and true faith, which inspired soo many. You were and will continue to be a blessing to all of us. May you rest in peace in Paradise. God needed you in His beautiful garden, and He only chooses the best. Rest in peace, Fr. Dennison, and always know we love you. You will be in our prayers!!!! Maria A. Gonzalez- Garrido
Deacon RichardE. Simpson, PhD - 04/24/2021 03:35 PM
Fr. Dennison was my classmate at St. John Vianney from 1961 to 1963, when I left the seminary and went next door to Christopher Columbus HS (class of 1965). He was a great guy and a tender soul. Over the years I have read of him and heard from members of my extended family the positive things he said or did for them, particularly at St. Augustine and St. Andrew. Most significantly, he was responsible for bringing my late uncle back to the faith. My uncle just raved about Fr. Dennison! My last long distance contact with him was when he was the pastor of my home parish, Little Flower. John Allen, Jr., now head of Crux in Rome, wrote an article five years ago about Fr. Dennison’s ability to give a weekday reflection in one sentence and be totally on target. I often begin mine with, “In one sentence today’s readings say...” and then I elaborate, unlike Fr. Dennison. It is obvious he will be sorely missed.As one of my sisters said this morning, “Fr. Dennison is most certainly a saint.” Amen! Dcn. Richard E. Simpson, Diocese of San Bernardino, CA
Nancy Heise - 04/24/2021 02:29 PM
Thank you Fr Dennison for coming to be our pastor at St Andrew for six years. You transformed our parish into a beautiful, loving, stewardship parish and taught us so many soul healthy lessons. You were an excellent pastor, a truthful, loving priest and I am forever grateful. I ask God to bless everyone whom you served so well with a grateful heart. I thank God for the great blessing of knowing you. I pray for more good priestly vocations like you. Enjoy your Heaven and pray for us to finish well as you have done. Love Nancy Heise
Sylvia Viyella - 04/24/2021 01:33 PM
I felt profound sadness at the news of Father Dennison’s passing. I feel blessed for the time I spent under his guidance and friendship. Also, for the memorable occasions I had the good fortune to spend with him . I witnessed the love his beloved Columbus boys always had for him, well beyond into the years. It was admirable. He was good to me. I thank God for his presence in that period in my life. Rest In Peace, Father Dennison
Carol Diaz-Zubieta - 04/24/2021 09:03 AM
Fr. Dennison was instrumental in the formation of my faith. He taught us by example. I still have vivid memories of his Church history class. In my adult life, he helped me through some very sad times but was also with me on joyful occasions. He was my teacher, my mentor, my friend. I will miss his stories, his guidance and his wisdom. God Bless you, Fr. Dennison. Thank you for your care and understanding. You have a permanent place in my heart. May you Rest In Peace.
George Ruggiano - 04/24/2021 12:39 AM
God bless you fr Dennison. You were my hero. We need more of you in this world. You taught my thre sons at Columbus high Paul, George and Douglas. 1983, 1984, and 1986.You were their favorite teacher. My nephew jack Chinn which you paid him to help you at st Augustin church. You married my son Douglas to his wife Mariela at coconut grove church. You made an indelible mark on each of them. They are fine men in our community and I will be forever great full. I was at Columbus high the day it opened a 1961 graduate. As a father it was great knowing you were there watching over them. You will be greatly missed. I pray that God rewards you greatly. George Ruggiano,
Miriam Goya Diaz - 04/23/2021 08:26 PM
He was our Spiritual Advisor at Immaculata La Salle and was always ready to listen, always had a smile and always cheered us on. In our later years, he was a friend. May you rest in God's eternal care Fr. Dennison. You were one in a million. Miriam Goya Diaz - Immaculata La Salle - Class of 1978

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