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Monsignor Desmond Dillon dies after over 70 years service

Monsignor Desmond Dillon
Monsignor Desmond Dillon
Diocese of Yakima

The Reverend Monsignor Desmond Patrick Dillon died May 9 at the Tri-Cities Chaplaincy Hospice House in Kennewick, WA. According to the Diocese of Yakima, Monsignor Dillon was 99 years old and a senior priest of the diocese in residence at St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick. He died at 1:30 a.m. Friday following a brief illness. The funeral will be held on May 19.

Msgr. Dillon was born January 31, 1915 in Hong Kong, the son of Francis Dillon and Petronilla (Lema da Rosa) Dillon. He attended schools in Victoria, B.C., Hong Kong and Seattle before graduating from O’Dea High School in Seattle in 1933. He then entered St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore for an eight-year course of studies.

Msgr. Dillon was ordained a priest on May 22, 1941, at St. James Cathedral in Seattle by the Most Rev. Gerald Shaughnessy, S.M. He served as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Tacoma, Holy Family Parish in Auburn, and St. Catherine and St. Theresa Parishes in Seattle. Special assignments in Seattle included assisting then Fr. C. M. Power (later Bishop of Yakima) at the St. Peter Claver interracial learning center from 1944-1946. He was named administrator of St. Andrew’s Parish in Ellensburg in 1946.

Msgr. Dillon became a priest of the Diocese of Yakima at its formation in 1951, and remained at St. Andrew’s until 1959. Special assignments in Ellensburg included work with the Central Washington State College (now University) Newman Club. He was named pastor of St. John Parish in Naches in 1959, where he served for three years, along with being named director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Yakima. He served in that role until 1968, and was in residence at Holy Rosary Parish in Moxee from 1962 to 1966. He had a special concern for the establishment of the St. Vincent stores, and helped to resettle Cuban refugees.

In August 1966, Msgr. Dillon was named pastor of St. Paul Cathedral. He served there for two years, then was pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Quincy briefly. Following a sabbatical, he was the diocesan property manager for three years while in residence at St. Peter’s in Cowiche. He was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick in September 1972, serving for three years, and then served for four years as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Prosser.

Msgr. Dillon was named pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Sunnyside in August of 1979, serving for four years, then was named pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Toppenish, where he served for four years, then was named pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Toppenish. In 2986 he assumed senior priest status and moved back to St. Joseph's in Kennewick. In 1991, at his ceremony celebrating his 50th anniversary of ordination, he was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II, with the title Monsignor. He continued to assist regularly at Sunday Mass in Kennewick until poor health and age prevented him from working.

Monsignor Dillon was a supporter of the St. Vincent stores and helped to resettle Cuban refugees. Monsignor Dillon served the community of St. Joseph's Church in Kennewick for nearly 30 years. During his final years the members of St Joseph's Church, seminarians and Knights of Columbus, helped in his care to prevent the need for a nursing home. While in hospice, many parishioners stopped by to pray with him.

The vigil for Monsignor Dillon will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church a 7 p.m., May 18. The funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. May 19 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kennewick. Donations in his memory may be made to the Diocese of Yakima Priest Retirement and Health Fund, 5301 A Tieton Dr. Yakima, WA 98908

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