If you had asked teenaged Rick Curry to lend you a hand, he would gladly have done so, but he might first have had to run out to his car to get it, reports his old classmate and friend, John Deady.
Curry, who graduated from SFDS parish school (class of 1957) and later West Catholic, was born without a right forearm and sometimes found his prosthesis cumbersome.
Well-liked in the parish school, Curry managed to get into as much mischief as any of the other boys. The Sisters prepared him early on, though, for limited career choices. Particularly, he was told, he should not aspire to a career in the military, as a doctor, or in religious life – how could a priest perform a blessing or say Mass without a right arm?
This set the challenge for a contrarian lifetime of achievement.
Joining the religious as a Jesuit Brother, Curry overcame the doubts of various supervisors, became an accomplished one-armed baker, and wrote two cookbooks. The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking is an entertaining education in the spiritual significance of bread, as well as a compilation of favorite recipes from his travels around the Jesuit world.
After earning a BA from Saint Joseph’s College and an MA from Villanova, Curry earned the title of Doctor, with a PhD in Educational Theatre from new York University. Then, for many years, he worked with the Veteran’s Administration on healthcare and rehabilitation for wounded veterans – thus associating himself with both medicine and the military.
Curry spent his life creating opportunities for the handicapped. He advocated for actors with disabilities – working to ensure that genuinely disabled people played disabled parts in theatre, movies, and television. He himself played a number of small roles, including a one-armed psychologist on an episode of the long-running TV series Monk. He became a professor of Catholic Studies and Theatre, as well as director of the Academy for Veterans at Georgetown University. He also co-founded the Dog Tag Bakery, operated by wounded veterans.
In his lifetime, Curry received twenty-five honorary degrees, and was named a “Distinguished Citizen” by President George H.W. Bush. Six years before he passed away in December 2015, he applied for a special dispensation from Rome to become a priest, and was ordained. The IHM Sisters who long ago encouraged him to accept limitations, might be very glad to be proven not quite right just this once!