In Memory of



Obituary for Paul DeSante

Paul J. DeSante, 90, of Fairview died peacefully on October 7, 2023. Born July 22, 1933, he was the son of Paul and Gertrude Fromknecht DeSante. He is survived by his beloved wife, Hope, his brother, David (Kathy), and his sister, Marilyn Sobotincic (John), as well as several nieces and nephews.

After graduating from Cathedral Prep in 1951, Paul spent two years at Gannon College before receiving an A.B. from St. Mary's Seminary (Baltimore) in 1955. He pursued theological studies at Catholic University, along with graduate studies in English, receiving an M.A. in 1960, and then a Ph.D. in English in 1963 from St. John's University (NY).

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Erie on May 7, 1959, Paul was assigned to Gannon; he remained there until he was laicized to marry Mary Hope Wilson in 2000. Pastorally, he served St. Cyprian and St. Matthew-in-the-Woods parishes (now All Saints Parish), the Gannon Sunday Community, and several convents for daily Mass. He was also a long-time spiritual director for the Cursillo and was on the Retrouvaille team for several years.

Paul spent his entire professional career at Gannon, joining the English Dept. in 1959. He served as chair for over 20 years and Dean of Graduate Studies from 1993 until his retirement in 2000. He particularly enjoyed teaching Shakespeare and poetry, as well as all his graduate courses. After retirement he worked as a proofreader for Jameson Publishing.

For many years, Paul volunteered his proofreading skills for several nonprofit publications. His love for L'Arche Erie led to his serving on the board for two terms and to monthly pastoral visits with Hope for many years. Involved in parish life at Holy Cross, Fairview, he enjoyed leading faith-sharing groups, the Ministry of Service, and Adult Faith Formation. He was active in a Cursillo group reunion for over 20 years. He was also invited several times to give presentations on Catholicism and spirituality topics at Wayside Presbyterian.

Paul John DeSante is celebrated in his life and death as a gentle, loving spouse, devoted and kind brother and uncle, faithful friend, former dedicated teacher, and compassionate spiritual guide. Paul modeled for us a love for life through his simplicity and prayerfulness. His life in retirement was one of ‘moderation in all things.’ This included prayer, reading, ministry, splitting wood, attending morning mass, and following Gannon sports. For those who loved him, his presence offered unconditional acceptance, peace, and joy.

Paul's family will receive friends at Holy Cross Church, 7100 West Ridge Road, on Friday October 13 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for visitation, followed by evening prayer and memory sharing. On Saturday October 14 there will be visitation at 9:00 a.m. followed by The Mass of Resurrection at 10:00 a.m. Directly following Mass all are invited to share lunch in the Riley Center with the family. Interment in the DeSante family plot at Gate of Heaven Cemetery will follow privately.

If you wish to honor Paul, we humbly ask memorial gifts be made to: L’Arche Erie, 3745 West 12th Street, Erie 16505, any of the three women religious communities in Erie, Holy Cross Catholic Church, or to a charity of your choice.

Funeral arrangements were made by the Russell C. Schmidt & Son Funeral Home Inc., 5000 Wattsburg Rd., Erie, 16504.