Died 20 January 2015
Jesuit Father Francis R. Allen died on January 20, 2015, at Campion Center in Weston, Massachusetts. Fr. Allen was born on May 13, 1925, and entered the Society of Jesus on July 1, 1943, at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts.
He attended local public schools and in senior year at Salem High began to think of becoming a priest. He said later he had no idea where this came from but is inclined to think it was due to the influence of an aunt he idolized, a Sister of Charity who had served in China. The family held a conference and his father, observing that Fr. Allen had never shown many signs of piety, suggested he go to Boston College for two years and then see what he thought.
In 1943, after a year at BC, he applied to the Society without telling his parents and that summer entered the Jesuit novitiate at Shadowbrook. After juniorate studies, he spent three years in philosophy studies at Weston College, for which, he said, he found little aptitude or interest. In contrast, his regency at Fairfield Prep (1947-1950), teaching Latin, history, religion and French was a very affirming experience and Fr. Allen began to think he might have talents that would make him a good Jesuit.
He returned to Weston for theology studies in 1953 and was ordained a priest by Cardinal Richard Cushing on June 15, 1956. As was the custom then, he went to tertianship a year later, in Pomfret, Connecticut. In 1958, he returned to Fairfield Prep, but as prefect of discipline, when he would rather have been teaching.
In 1962, he was moved to Boston College High School as assistant principal, which, he said, made him dean of discipline and de facto director of admissions and financial aid and director of the summer school. He served under four principals, the last of whom made him academic vice-president of the school. During these years, he earned a master’s in education at Boston College.
In 1979-1980, looking for a change, he spent a sabbatical year at the Center for Family Learning in New Rochelle, studying counseling and psychotherapy. This led to three years living at a parish and working at the Catholic Counseling Services in Fall River. What he had really discovered in these years, he later said, was that he loved parish work, and from 1983 to 1992, he was assistant pastor in St. Thomas Parish, a short distance from Fairfield, the happiest years of his ministry.
In 1992, the rector of the Fairfield Jesuit Community asked him to fill in for the minister of the community who was seriously ill and this led to a 17-year stretch as either minister or sub-minister of the community, while continuing pastoral work in the parishes of the area. In 2009, he moved to Campion Center. Fr. Allen was a lively community presence but in recent years his health declined and he died on January 20, 2015.