Brother Dennis Newton, SVD, 62, director of the Divine Word Mission Office, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, April 5, 2014.
A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Brother Dennis graduated from Divine Word College in Epworth in 1974 and returned to the college in 1988 as a vice president. He served as vice president of Finance for five years, followed by six years as vice president of Admissions and Recruitment.
In 1999, he was named vice provincial of the Society of the Divine Word-Chicago Province, which extends from Canada to the West Indies and from Nebraska to Massachusetts. In 2002, the Society of the Divine Word Generalate in Rome named him national mission director.
The Mission Office, founded in 1958, raises funds for Divine Word Missionaries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and South America. Their activities include developing healthcare clinics, building schools, and ministering in Catholic parishes.
During his tenure as mission director, Brother Dennis oversaw the establishment of Divine Word Farms in Iowa, which help to raise funds for the missions outside of North America.
He was responsible for four farms—three in Iowa and one in Nebraska—including an experimental farm on which the Divine Word Missionaries teach missionaries from outside the United States how to produce agriculture without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
He implemented this program in order to help communities learn how to grow produce and raise livestock locally, thus saving transportation resources and diminishing the carbon footprint.
Along with leading a national non-profit organization, he advocated for the homeless. In 2001, he received Volunteer of the Year from Chicago’s Residents for Effective Shelter Transitions (REST), which provides shelter and food for the city’s homeless.
Brother Dennis served on the board of directors for Two Lil’ Fishes, a meal program for the homeless in Chicago, and Leading India’s Future Today (LIFT), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing leadership excellence among youth in Tamil Nadu, India.
Early in his career, he taught at Nanzan High School in Nagoya, Japan, and Holy Rosary Institute in
Lafayette, La.; and served on the pastoral staff at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Lafayette. He also held severalleadership roles in the Society of the Divine Word U.S. Southern Province, including provincial treasurer, director of Brother Formation, and retreat center director.
Born in Waterloo in 1951, Dennis was the one of Rita (Fischels) and James Newton’s five children. He
became a Divine Word Missionary in 1977, professed perpetual vows in 1983, and held a bachelor’s degree in history from Divine Word College and an MBA from the University of Louisiana.
He is survived by two sisters: Kathy (Gary) Miller of La Porte City, Iowa, and Candy (Chris) McKern of
Kasson, Minn. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Jim and Terry Newton.
The wake for Brother Dennis will be held on Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit
in Techny Towers Retreat and Conference Center. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Burial will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Techny.
Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center is located at 2001 Waukegan Rd., Techny (Northbrook),
Ill. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts to be distributed among Brother Dennis’s favorite charities may be sent in his name to Divine Word Missionaries, P.O. Box 6099, Techny, IL 60082-6099 or through