Skip to comments.Priest jumps off bridge in Rhode Island
Posted on 09/12/2009 6:33:40 AM PDT by NYer
The Rev. Dennis J. Rocheford, 60, who became pastor at St. Ann Parish in North Oxford July 1, jumped to his death in Rhode Island yesterday morning, according to Rhode Island State Police.
“Our focus is on prayers for him, for his family and for his friends,” Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said this morning.
Rev. Rocheford, a longtime military chaplain, was on leave from St. Ann's and also had been serving at the Chapel of Hope at the Navy Base in Newport, R.I., according to Mr. Delisle.
About 8 a.m. yesterday, state police in Rhode Island received a report that a man had jumped from the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge. In addition to Newport and Rhode Island State Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Jamestown Navy-Marine Corps responded.
Authorities recovered the man's body in the water below the bridge. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Rhode Island State Police Capt. James Swanberg. He said the man who jumped off the bridge was identified as Dennis Rocheford.
The Newport Bridge is the largest suspension bridge in New England and spans Narragansett Bay, connecting Newport and Jamestown.
Rev. Rocheford had been on a leave of absence from St. Ann's but still lived in the parish rectory when he was not at the Navy base. He was previously pastor of St. Theresa's Parish in Blackstone and for a time served as a priest assigned to assist clergy of the Diocese of Worcester charged with sexual misconduct.
Rev. Rocheford was born in South Weymouth and attended schools in Worcester. He graduated from South High School in 1967. He joined the Marine Corps and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. He attended St. John's Seminary in Brighton and was ordained a priest at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1977. Rev. Rocheford's first assignment was to St. Camillus Parish in Fitchburg as associate pastor in 1977.
Other parishes in Central Massachusetts that he was appointed to include Sacred Heart in Hopedale in 1981 and St. Joan of Arc in Worcester in 1985. He studied Spanish at a seminary in the Dominican Republic before being appointed to St. Joan of Arc. Rev. Rocheford returned to military service in 1987. When he returned to the area in 1998, he was appointed to St. John the Evangelist in Clinton. In 2001, Rev. Rocheford was appointed administrator of St. Theresa's in Blackstone and became pastor in 2002.
As in Clinton, Maryland. My old parish back in the day.
Poor man, no one knows the demons we all deal with. It’s sad to see a permanent solution to a temporary problem. RIP
May God rest his soul. And may he find the peace in eternity he sought in life.
Dear God,Prayers for his family and friends.
Thank you for the testimonial on Fr. Rocheford. The Vietnam war took a serious toll on many. Could this have been a latent reaction? If you learn more, would you please ping me? Would appreciate it.
There's also a parish by the same name in Clinton Massachusetts, and that's probably the one they're referring to.
Where the Clintons are involved, who can say?
Why do people think it is always Vietnam?
The poor man. How very, very sad.
God have mercy on his soul.
Lord, we ask not to count the suicide against this brave man.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen.
Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Rev. Rocheford.
May God have mercy on his soul.
Prayers going up for him. RIP.
Thank heavens that we have a compassionate Father to met out Justice.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
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Poor man. May God have mercy on his soul.
Rev. Dennis J. Rocheford celebrates a Mass in May 2007 for U.S. Marines at a base in Rutbah, Iraq.
I will pray for Father and his family
Thank you for that updated information. While we don't know for sure, we can presume that they put him on 'medication'. May God have mercy on him.
We often struggle to understand such deeds. We know that only God knows truly what's in a man's soul.
May God bring him to eternal life, with the Glory of God's eternal love.
Thank you for such a thoughtful post.
Prayers that God will forgive him.
We need as many good priests as we can get, and he seems to have been a good priest.
Hard to imagine why he would do something like this, but I hope that he was not in his right mind, that he repented at the last instant, and that God will forgive him.
It is a terrible thing for a priest to commit suicide! I pray that he has been saved through the grace of Our Lord.
God Bless the soul of Father Rocheford.
fini, Thanks for your service.
His judgment could have been severely diminished by the psychiatric medications he was taking. There is voluminous evidence that some of these drugs can cause suicidal thoughts and feelings.
His soul has been commended now to the infinite Mercy of a loving God. That is all we really know.
I was a parishioner at St. Theresa’s while Fr. Dennis was there. He was truly an amazing man. I’m not a very big church goer, but I was there every sunday when he was serving mass. He always talked fondly of his time in the military, and he had lots of funny(and some sad) stories to tell as well. Sadly he had a family history of alcoholism, and that probably is what led to his death. He had been called back to Iraq for about a year, and when he came home he seemed changed. Things just never were right with him, and a few months later he was gone. I found out that he had gone back to drinking and he wasn’t going to be working in another parish. I know that it was a terrible blow to him to lose his appointment at St. Theresa’s.
I can barely look at his pictures, it just kills me to think of how such an amazing person had such terrible sadness in him. He was so kindhearted and loving. I remember once my little niece escaped us and climbed the altar during the end of mass. I was totally mortified, but Fr. Dennis picked her right up and continued mass with her. He made the church feel like a family, everyone was welcome there..It will never ever be the same without him.
I just feel so terrible about this..I almost wish I hadn’t found out...
Thank you for sharing your memories of this priest. Life often poses unexpected challenges to be overcome. Perhaps that is why the Catholic Church encourages us to read the lives of the saints, especially those with the same debilitating vices, so we can draw courage and strength from their journeys.
Father Dennis was an awesome Marine and Chaplain. He married my wife and me on Jan 17, 1998. In his homily, he spoke of the marathon that we were to embark on together, an even greater challenge than the USMC Marathon that we had just run together in Oct, 1998. I thought of him often, and in fact called his parrish and got his cell phone number about three weeks ago, and hadn’t yet called when I saw the news.
Father Dennis was a special person to me, and to everyone I knew who ever met him.
I hope that he knew how many people cared so much for him as he ran his own marathon, one that led him to Vietnam, where he was one of six Marines in his company of over 100 to leave Hue City alive, to the priesthood, and to serve again with Marines in Iraq in 2007, and back to being a parrish priest.
Semper Fi, Father.