Jesuit Brother Richard J. Devine, longtime missionary to Japan, entered into God’s peace in Tokyo on April 10, 2018. He was 83. Originally a member of the California Province, he transferred to the Province of Japan.
Born in San Francisco, January 11, 1935, he graduated from St. Ignatius High School, class of 1952. He entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Los Gatos as a postulant in August of that year, becoming a novice in February 1953. Following his first vows in 1955, he made good use of his expertise in auto mechanics, carpentry, and plumbing at the novitiate.
Accepted for missionary work in Japan, he sailed from San Francisco in August 1959. After language studies in Yokosuka, he taught woodshop and had charge of the maintenance, boiler operation, and welding at Hiroshima Gakuin, the Jesuit high school established by the California Jesuits. In 1965, he was assigned to the provincial office in Tokyo, where, using his knowledge of the intricate building codes of Japan, he oversaw the property management of the Japan Province. He inspected construction of Jesuit houses around the Province and had charge of the funeral arrangements and burials of Province members.
Br. Devine branched out into other fields, as well. For many years, he taught history and English in the International Division of Sophia University. He developed an interest in traditional Japanese storytelling and, working with professional storytellers, produced a series of videos of scenes from the Old and New Testament for catechetical use in parishes and schools. He was an accomplished woodcarver and his sculptures were displayed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum. He worked with death-row inmate artists, arranging an exhibit at Sophia University, as well as a symposium on the death penalty.
When he left classroom teaching, he served in campus ministry and as minister of the Jesuit community at Sophia. Toward the end of his life, he retired from his duties in the minister’s office and was able to devote himself to his artistic work.