Oct. 26, 2021 – Fr. James J. Dinneen, SJ, was proud of his Brooklyn roots. Born in Brooklyn on October 22, 1930, and raised there, Fr. Dinneen liked to speak occasionally in “Brooklynese” to show off his heritage. As a high school student Fr. Dinneen got to know the Jesuits at Xavier High School, and on August 14, 1948, shortly after his graduation from Xavier, he joined the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Fr. Dinneen took his first vows on August 15, 1950, at St. Andrew’s and after completing his juniorate there, moved on to Weston College in Massachusetts for his studies in philosophy (1953-1956).
For regency, Fr. Dinneen taught social sciences and English at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y. (1956-1959). He then went on to Woodstock College in Maryland to study theology (1959-1963). Fr. Dinneen was ordained in the Fordham University Church by Francis Cardinal Spellman on June 21, 1962. After completing his theological studies Jim headed for Auriesville, N.Y., for tertianship (1963-1964).
In 1964, Fr. Dinneen returned to his alma mater, Xavier High School, to teach English and religion and serve as student counselor for the next ten years. In 1974, Fr. Dinneen studied theology and spirituality at Fordham University and then returned to Xavier in 1976.
In 1982, Fr. Dinneen was sent to St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, N.Y., where, for the next 17 years, he gave the Spiritual Exercises and did priestly ministry in local parishes. In 1999, he took a well-deserved year’s sabbatical at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Calif.
In 2000, Fr. Dinneen came back to the New York Province and was assigned to St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City where, for the next 14 years, he served as chaplain to the faculty, retreat minister and spiritual director. During all these years he spent many a summer directing the thirty-day Spiritual Exercises at the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos, Calif.
In 2014, because of declining health, Fr. Dinneen moved to Murray-Weigel Hall to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus. Fr. Dinneen enjoyed being with people and would go from table to table at lunch and dinner to be present to all in the community. He loved to wander about and could always be found by following the trail of half-filled coffee cups about the building.
Failing health made Fr. Dinneen especially susceptible to COVID-19 and it got the best of him. He died, just before midnight, on October 23, 2021, the day after his 91st birthday. For many years Fr. Dinneen helped others come close to Jesus through the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises. May he now rest forever close to that same Jesus whom he loved and served so well.