From our friend, Gene Palumbo:
In August, I wrote to you all saying, "This is the email I was hoping I'd never have to send." That was when Dean - having gotten the scan results that showed the tumor continuing to grow, despite the chemotherapy - decided to forego further treatment and return to El Salvador for palliative care.
Now, sadly, I write to you again, and again could begin with those same words.
I sent an update yesterday morning to tell you that Dean had left the hospital. Then I went over to see him. He had said he wanted to be in touch with his two brothers and his sister. I called each of them from my cell phone and held the phone to his ear. he could hear them but, given his weakened state, was able to say very little to them.
This morning Father Jose Maria "Chema" Tojeira called to say that Dean had grown much weaker. My wife, Guadalupe, and I went to see him immediately. When we got to this room, we found him surrounded by brother Jesuits -- Chema, Jon Sobrino, Rafael de Sivatte, Mauricio Gaborit and Vincinte Espinoza - and his doctor, Miny Romero. We took turns sitting beside him, holding his hand and whispering in his ear. His breathing continued to slow, and shortly after 11 a.m., he died.
As you know, Dean came to El Salvador to help replace the six Jesuits murdered in 1989. Today, his life as a Jesuit ended in the place where their lives as Jesuits began: the Santa Tecla residence, where they did their two-year novitiate.
One of my tasks, in my role as Dean's "secretary" in these last months, was to check his email. I don't know why, but it occurred to me to check it again before sending you this note. I'm so glad I did that, because I found something that had just arrived: a note from Rafael de Sivatte. He's another of the six Jesuits who came here to take the places of their murdered brothers. He, too, has been keeping a list of people abreast of how Dean has been doing. he copied Dean on those emails, and so it was that this turned up in Dean's inbox just now:
I write to give you the painful and joyful news that God, Father and Mother, has taken to his side our brother, friend, father, and companion in solidarity, Dean. I can tell you that he died so peacefully that those of us who were with him at that moment felt filled with peace ourselves. I send you a fraternal embrace, united with you in prayers and in the commitment to the Kingdom for which he worked and continues to work.
I loved that Rafael wrote on the subject line of his email: "Dean, still with us."