Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Professor Roger Downey, S.J.
There has been another death in the Jesuit family of Sophia University. This time it is Fr. Roger Downey, S.J. He has been in the hospital for the past four months, and this morning around 5:00 was placed under critical observation. Two Jesuits then rushed to be by his side, and he passed away quietly around 7:00 AM. Yesterday, Christmas Day, several of his colleagues in the Economics Department greeted him, and several Jesuits sang Christmas Carols for him in the hospital. He seems to have been conscious and grateful for the concern shown to him. Fr. Downey retired from the university last year, when his disease was diagnosed to be serious, and he was given the status of Professor Emeritus for his services to the university. He was still in his early 60's. R.I.P.
Roger was fluent in Japanese and Indonesian, besides his mother tongue, English, and was capable of communicating in Chinese. In fact, it was while he was in China, about three years ago, that he realized that his health was deteriorating and decided to return to Japan for treatment. He was the Chaplain for a large group of Indonesians around Tokyo, having inherited this apostolate from another eminent Jesuit Fr. Bob Webber. Roger was also a great PC explorer, as he set up intranet servers and computers in different places. He also developed some software plugins for Excel, facilitating various calculations required of his students. Perhaps most striking was his athletic appearance, as he exercised regularly, pumping iron and doing push-ups. Almost everyone is impressed by his courageous and non-complaining attitude during his prolonged illness. He was a model patient. Coincidentally, just this month an article he had written for the Japan Missionary Bulletin was published.
An official funeral Mass will be celebrated on January 15, 2008, at St. Ignatius Church, Tokyo. St. Ignatius Church is about a minute walk from Yotsuya Station (Marunouchi Subway, Namboku Subway, or JR), and the Mass will begin at 13:30.
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According to Donal Doyle, a close friend of Roger, the following picture was Roger's favorite photo of himself, taken in Colorado when he and his siblings climbed a nearby mountain on the day after their father's funeral.