John J. Deeney SJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa, US on July 22nd, 1921. He knew at a young age that he wanted to be a priest and dedicate his life to God. He entered the Jesuit order in 1939. John Deeney, SJ lived his whole life in India and died on January 18, 2010. He was buried in Chiabasa, Jamshedpur, India in the area where he spent most of his life.
First Assignment, Life Long Assignment
In 1948 he was sent to India to an area in the Kolhan region in the Jamshedpur diocese. He remained there his entire life spending most of it in and area called Chiabasa. He was ordained a priest in 1952. There he was dedicated to education, culture and the spiritual life of the Ho people.
He wrote 7 volumes of works on the Ho culture. He translated the Old and New Testament into the Ho language along with the Ho vocabulary and Ho English Dictionary.
In supporting the education of the Ho people, he helped to build several schools. He baptized thousands of people into the faith. He was also an advocate for the people of Orissa during unrest there and raised funds and awareness. The building of The Saint Paul Miki School was a goal of his at the time of his death. Supporting the building of this school is one of the aims of this site.
Not only did he write books for the Ho people in India. He wrote to his family and friends home in the US over the 60 years he was in India. This site is maintained by his family as a means to share some of his writings and stories.
Work in India
He came to India in January, 1950. He had long had an interest in the problems of India and the adaptation of the missionary to the new surroundings. He had a sharp and logical mind. His Theological studies were partly in Pune and Kurseong. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Ferdinand Perier in Kurseong. Fr. Deeney appeared in the Chaibasa scene on July 11, 1955 as Headmaster of the High School and Assistant Parish Priest, and later, for a short time, Pastor. During these years he undertook extensive research into the life of the Ho people around, their culture and language. He also prepared many liturgical and catechetical works for use in the villages. The whole liturgy is now conducted in the Ho language. He prepared and published the New Testament in Ho, as well as a pictorial life of Christ, wrote a Ho Grammar and Vocabulary and a Ho English Dictionary. His prolonged requests to the Government of India for Indian Citizenship, were granted on February 20, 1991 Jamshedpur Jesuits -Departed John JDeeney