Reverend Dever Noted for Helping Children

By Gary Susswein
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
December 6, 1997

QUINCY — The Rev. Gerard Dever was remembered Friday as a parish priest who spent his Sunday mornings giving inspiritational sermons and the rest of his week reaching out to local children who viewed him as friend.

Rev. Dever, who had served at St. Ann's parish in Wollaston since 1993, died Thursday after an eight-month battle with lymphoma. He was 53.

"He was a very involved person with a high energy level. He loved working with children," said Robert Wilson of Quincy, a lifelong friend and St. Ann's parishioner. "He had a sincere interest in kids having something to do."

Rev. Dever grew up in South Boston and became a priest in 1971. As he served in parishes in Westwood, Dorchester, Weymouth and Quincy, working with the youth of the parish remained a top priority.

At St. Ann's, he worked with the Catholic Youth Organization to collect camping supplies for inner-city children who were planning to spend the summer at camps. He also led the "Baby Jesus shower" each Christmas to buy gifts and food for newborn babies.

Friends also said Rev. Dever was always available to counsel children who were having problems. They said he always spoke to them with respect and never talked down to them.

"He was always very comfortable with them. He was easy to be with," Wilson said, adding that CYO members often maintained their relationship with Rev. Dever even after they became adults.

"He had a lot of friends who always kept in contact with him," he said.

During his time at St. Ann's, Rev. Dever helped strengthen the parish school and regularly visited classrooms there. He also worked with a local soup kitchen and a group for unwed mothers, and led worship services at Tobin Towers on Clay Street for senior citizens who could not leave home.

"He gave a positive approach toward life and toward Christianity," said The Rev. Thomas Keane, pastor at St. Ann's. "He was a delight to be with and serve with for the past four years."

Before he came to St. Ann's, Rev. Dever served for eight years at St. Jerome's parish in North Weymouth, where he spent much of his time working with elementary- and middle school studenst at the parish school.

"He taught them what religion meant in everyday life, how to be a good Catholic," said The Rev. Thomas Wyndham, pastor at St. Jerome's.

"He was a wonderful priest, very people-oriented, a very gifted man" Rev. Wyndham said. "If anyone was sick, he was the first one there."

Colleagues and friends described Rev. Dever's Sunday morning sermons as "dynamic".

He often spoke about issues that parishioners could relate to, including the meaning of the church and faith and his opposition toward abortion.

"When he started to speak, the congregation knew they would get something meaningful and tied into the readings of the day," Wilson said. "He was very involved in social justice."

Rev. Father Dever decorated the church with elaborate floral arrangements for Easter, Christmas and autumn that included poinsettias and lilies.


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