Cistercian Fr. Mark Delery dies

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Father Mark Delery, a doctor, writer and Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Berryville, died June 29 at the Blue Ridge Hospice Residential Center in Winchester. He was 91.

Alfred A. Delery was born Jan. 2, 1919, in Cambridge, Mass., the third of nine children of Louis A. and Albertine A. Vezina Delery.

Father Delery was a graduate of Boston College, 1941, and Tufts Medical School in Boston, 1944. He served as a captain in the U. S. Army Medical Corps, 1945-47, and was in private practice as a physician, 1949-54, specializing in internal medicine. He was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

In 1954 Father Delery entered St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Mass., and was ordained a priest in 1959. In 1981 he transferred to Holy Cross Abbey and was elected abbot in 1984. After six years as abbot, Father Delery ministered as spiritual director and counselor at the abbey's retreat house.

He authored several books, including The Parable of the Cherry Blossom and The Song of a Silent Stone.

He also wrote a biography of a fellow monk, Brother Thomas Whalen, called Feet of Clay Wrapped in Love. The book follows the monks' struggle with alcoholism and his journey to recovery.

While an intern at Boston City Hospital proceeding his time in the Army, Father Delery treated many alcoholics.

"It was common for an alcoholic to be brought in so inebriated that we had to keep him on IVs," he said. "But we never made them feel guilty, even though they kept coming back."

Father Delery is survived by two sisters, Corinne Brittain of Burnham-on-Crouch, England, and Patricia Webber of Concord, N.H.; a brother, John Delery of Fort Worth, Texas; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A prayer vigil and funeral Mass, officiated by Cistercian Abbot Robert Barnes, was offered July 10 at Holy Cross Abbey. Burial followed at Holy Cross Abbey Cemetery.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2010