James Michael Patrick Deschene, O.S.B., passed away in Lewiston, N.Y. on September 16, 2020. Born in Fall River, MA. he was the son of the late Julian A. Deschene and Winifred M. Padden Deschene of Tiverton, RI.
He leaves his siblings, sister Anne of Providence, RI; brothers Thomas and wife Anne Marie of Westport, MA; Daniel and wife Katherine of Seekonk, MA; Nieces Julie McCoy and Donna Deschene of Tiverton; and nephews, Kyle and Benjamin Deschene and Aidan McCoy. He was in prayerful acceptance forhis recently deceased, beloved brother Robert and nephew Emmet. He is survived by Barbara and Jim Bennedetti, his family of Brothers in his Benedictine community, numerous caring cousins, extended family, students and friends around the U.S., England and Canada.
The Right Reverend Dom James was a learned scholar, philosopher, and theologian, inspiring teacher, gifted listener and guidance counselor. Dom James is a graduate of de LaSalle Academy, Newport, R.I., La Salle Academy, Providence, where he later taught and served as Chair of the English department;);the University of Rhode Island (M.A. in English -1970); RhodeIsland College (Masters in Education in Counseling and Psychology-1977); URI, (Ph.D English-Philosophy-(1990) with his dissertation “Joy in a Minor Key”on the works of C.S.. Lewis.
He was a lifelong teacher/guidance counselor for family, friends and community, working in several high schools in New England and Massachusetts, including the LaSalle Military Academy on Long Island. He taught courses, presented seminars, authored and published poetry, music compositions, reviews, articles on literature, religion and culture in various journals. He completed studies to be a paralegal and worked as a caseworker under the RI Office of Attorney General Jeffrey Pine.
Dom James, O.S.B., was ordained as an Orthodox priest in the Western Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in Canada (1990) and founded Christminster in Providence, R.I . When it relocated as Christminster Monastery in Hamilton, Ontario, he assumed the administrative and spiritual duties of Abbott of the Christ the Savior Monastery, also known as Christminster, incorporating the Oratory of Our Lady Glastonbury as its monastic chapel .
Having completely lost his sight he continued to pray, chant, and engage with others in holy services from memory. He served humbly as “Father” to many with a caring heart and warm countenance. Well into retirement he was a sought-after confessor . A good and faithful servant, monk, priest, friend, he brought his brilliance, his joy, and total life experience to create a prayerful pastoral community well beyond the walls of Christminster or his tiny hometown, and grew his “family” of those whose lives he touched. He exited this world humbly, grateful, at peace and beloved. Now he shares “in his Master’s joy”.
He was a faithful spiritual comforter, confidant , teacher and a friend to many. He enjoyed and shared many happy meals, especially Newport and Maine picnics, chuckles, books andbooks again, lively debates and gardens with those who loved him. He enjoyed, composed, studied, played and published music, poetry, original articles and edited, researched many for others.
His wit, storytelling and humor are well remembered. He loved children and they in turn gravitated to him (“Diddy”) for his evident joy and fantastic stories. He was delighted to chant great prayers or sing Irish ditties as needed. He held dear and passed along stories of his Irish and French ancestors and valuedtheir legacy and lives. He enjoyed making new memories and revisiting them in many conversations that began “Do you remember…?”, relishing them over “a cuppa tea”.
To a select group of childhood friends he remains the imaginative, powerful, fearless leader, “King James”, of the mythical and long-standing Tiverton “Kingdom of Narnia”, a tattered gang of country children who would follow him in daily adventures, through the cow fields and bayside walks. He cherished learning, travel, debating with gusto and good humor with scholars, colleagues and students alike. He began to drive in his 40s, but preferred brisk walks and “sitdowns” whenever he could, quietly or with a friend, by the ocean, and with a dog, if at all possible.
“Well done, good and faithful servant”
Donations in his name may be made to the American Cancer Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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