Buffalo-born Jesuit priest Father Donald James French, SJ, died Dec. 2, 2018, at Murray-Weigel Hall, Bronx.
Known as Jim, Father French was born Feb. 6, 1940, to Donald and Lorraine (Whalen) French. He attended Canisius High School, where he met the Jesuits. After graduation in 1958, he studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
In 1962, Father French entered the Society of Jesus at Bellarmine College, the Jesuit Novitiate in Plattsburgh. He studied at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Mass., and Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak.
From 1968-1971, Father French taught at Brooklyn Prep and then went to Woodstock College in Maryland to study theology. He was ordained on May 25, 1974, in Rochester by Bishop Joseph Hogan.
After studying theology, Father French returned to Buffalo to teach music and theology for 13 years at his alma mater, Canisius High School. He also served as assistant to the superior of the community there.
Father French then moved to New York City, where he spent five years as chaplain and teacher of theology at Regis High School. In 1993, he was appointed rector of the Jesuit Community at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, N.J. For the next six years, he taught high school and did pastoral ministry as well.
In 1999, he began residence at America House in Manhattan, where he became part of the provincial staff. He served in that capacity until 2004.
Father French then moved to Syracuse, where he was the socius to the master of novices for the next two years. His next assignment in 2006 was as pastor of St. Anthony Church and superior of the Jesuit Community on Long Island.
In 2012, he made yet another move to the Bronx, where for three years he was assistant to the rector and minister of the Jesuit Community. Because of failing eyesight, he came to Murray-Weigel Hall in 2015, where he served as assistant to the superior and spiritual director.
A funeral Mass was held Dec. 6, at Murray-Weigel Hall. Burial followed at the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville.