SAN JOSE, California — The people of the Diocese of San Jose bade farewell to Bishop R. Pierre DuMaine, the diocese’s founding bishop, at a funeral Mass celebrated by Bishop Oscar Cantu at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in downtown San Jose June 27.
He was recalled as a man “of great intelligence and wit” who will long be missed by the diocesan faithful, his family “and many friends and collaborators.”
DuMaine died June 13 after several years of declining health. He was 87.
Ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in June 1978, he became the founding bishop of the San Jose Diocese in 1981.
In a 2017 interview with The Valley Catholic, San Jose’s diocesan newspaper, that marked the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination, DuMaine called the foundation of the new diocese a wonderful opportunity, adding that the theology of the Second Vatican Council was made real in the nascent diocese.
Key among the guiding principles of changes put forth by the council, he said, were the active role of the laity and women religious “and a permeating spirit of collaboration.”
During the years of Vatican II, he was studying at The Catholic University of America in Washington. He welcomed the changes introduced by the council, particularly the liturgical reforms.
In a Valley Catholic commentary marking the diocese’s 15th anniversary, he wrote: “I like what I see — and have found support for my own faith and ministry — in the vitality of Catholic life across the spectrum of language and culture, economic and social condition, among priests and lay minister, and among all the faithful, especially the leaders and volunteers in every parish and Catholic enterprise.”
He also said he would like “to see this vitality focused and driven by a clearer sense of Catholic identity and Catholic solidarity that will achieve a greater Catholic unity within each parish, within our diocese, and with the universal church.”
“By Catholic solidarity,” he said, “I mean a livelier sense of kinship with all other Catholics, an active caring about their welfare and concerns, a more understanding tolerance for legitimate difference in how we hold and express our faith, a more unified voice when we bring Catholic principles to bear on public issues of justice and ethics. This, of course, rests on Catholic identity, which could be summarized as ‘The Mass, the Pope and Mary.”
He explained: “By ‘Mass,’ I mean not only the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist but in the entire treasure of the sacraments that is uniquely Catholic. I use ‘Pope’ as shorthand for the Catholic understanding of ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic church’ that we proclaim in the ancient creeds. ‘Mary’ I see as the supreme example of the ‘communion of the saints’ that we profess in the same creeds.”
Roland Pierre DuMaine, son of Nolan Amidee DuMaine and Mary Eulalia Burch, was born in Paducah, Kentucky, Aug. 2, 1931. He attended elementary schools in Kentucky and California. He studied at St. Joseph and St. Patrick seminaries in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and was ordained in June 1957.
He pursued graduate studies at The Catholic University of America, where he earned a doctorate in education. He was an assistant professor there from 1961 to 1963. He then moved on to teach at Serra High School in San Mateo, California.
He later became the assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 1965 until 1978, when he was named an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.
Among his many accomplishments during his tenure as San Jose’s bishop was overseeing the restoration of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. It was the largest privately funded renewal project of downtown San Jose. These efforts ensured that the cathedral basilica survived the 1989 earthquake and became what it is to this very day: The crown jewel of downtown.
DuMaine also recognized the significant role of technology in social communications as well as the role of communications in the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization. His service on several U.S. bishops’ committees over the years included being chairman of the U.S. bishops’ communications committee. He also was a member of what was then the Pontifical Commission on Social Communications.
He also was a director and longtime supporter of the Catholic Telemedia Network, a closed-circuit network serving Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
After retiring in 1999, DuMaine became a visiting professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University and Stanford University.
In his 2017 interview with The Valley Catholic, the bishop said that during his years as the head of the San Jose Diocese, “I have often been asked for a ‘vision’ or goal for our diocese and have generally responded: ‘to keep the family together.'”
“And so he did, so we are, and for that we are eternally grateful,” the paper concluded.
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