Veteran Jesuit missionary, Father Raymond A. Pease, died Jan. 17, in El Progreso, Honduras. The 75-year-old Denver native was a Jesuit for 57 years. He entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri, on August 17, 1955, and completed a B.A. in Philosophy at Saint Louis University in 1962. After teaching English and Religion in Jalisco, Mexico, and El Progreso from 1962 to 1965, Pease studied theology at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia.
He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Pope Paul VI on August 22, 1968, at the 39th Eucharistic Congress in Bogotá. After teaching English and Religion in Jalisco, Mexico, and El Progreso from 1962 to 1965, Pease studied theology at Pontificia Universidad Catolica Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Paul VI on August 22, 1968, at the 39th Eucharistic Congress in Bogotá.
From 1970 to 1976 Pease was a teacher and principal at Instituto San José, a Jesuit secondary school in El Progreso. In a work staffed by very few Jesuits, he took responsibility for many of the administrative details of the school while providing instruction and guidance to the students.
Pease served as an associate pastor and then the pastor at Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes in El Progreso from 1977 to 1982. He then became Vice Superior of the Yoro Mission and returned to teaching and administration at Instituto San José. After a sabbatical in Brazil and Denver in 1988, he returned to pastoral work in Honduras, again becoming pastor of Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes in 1993. Ray was only one of two priests assigned fulltime to the parish serving the main church, five chapels and 50,000 people. He headed the development of several nutrition centers for children in El Progreso’s poorest neighborhoods. Pease was greatly loved by the people he served.
Fr. Jesús Manuel Sariego, Provincial of the Central American Province, wrote, “All of us should feel pride in this Jesuit who spent most of his life in the dusty streets of El Progreso and in the barrios often destroyed by floods, who loved the townspeople very much and who treated everyone with great affection, who gave his days to the students of San José, and who wanted to give his life at the end where he had given it for so many years, leaving his homeland and family with a heart full of generosity and goodness. May God reward the tenderness of his heart with the joy of His presence.”
In late 2012 Pease’s health began to decline. He chose to remain in Honduras, his home for nearly 50 years, to live the remainder of his life.
He was buried Jan. 18 at the Iglesia de las Mercedes, the Cathedral of El Progreso.