Social Justice Champion Father Thomas Devereaux Honored by EAH Housing

Eah Housing, Fr. Devereaux with friends and EAH Housing staff (left to right): Mary Murtagh, Juan Chavez, Fr. Thomas Devereaux, Al Bonnett, Felix AuYeung Fr. Devereaux with friends and EAH Housing staff (left to right): Mary Murtagh, Juan Chavez, Fr. Thomas Devereaux, Al Bonnett, Felix AuYeung
August 20, 2015

Rev. Dr. Sir Thomas W. Devereaux sits down with fellow community activists, friends and supporters to celebrate his storied career as a champion of social justice.

“I never go into anything if I don’t have faithful collaborators. People have to work together to make things happen and be dedicated to the cause and be there for the long haul,” Father Devereaux said; he’s been a voice for the underserved in Sonoma County for more than 30 years. “The need is so great,” Devereaux added.

Devereaux, 77, who has been involved in ecumenical activities and inter-religious affairs since 1965, serves as an advocate for affordable housing, immigration and civil rights issues. In 1990, he began working with EAH Housing on what would become two affordable housing communities: Sonoma Creekside in Santa Rosa and Riverfield Homes in Healdsburg.

Al Bonnett, Senior Vice President of Real Estate Development for EAH Housing, collaborated with Devereaux on Sonoma Creekside and Riverfield Homes. Devereaux organized hundreds of affordable housing supporters to attend city council meetings that affected the funding support of the communities. Recalling these moments Bonnet said, “The thing that strikes me most about Father Devereaux is his fearlessness – he isn’t afraid to pursue social justice issues with sword in hand.”

Sonoma County organizer George Ortiz said, “[Father Devereaux] was made to be a priest. He is a very caring compassionate human being. He lives his creed.” Ortiz helped found the California Human Development Corporation, an organization that provides job training, housing and related services to farm workers. He has known Devereaux for more than a decade.

Although Devereaux is retired he hasn’t slowed down in his support of social justice, creating affordable housing and working to end homelessness. Asked what he enjoyed doing most in his retirement and in the near future Devereaux responded, “Making a difference in other people’s lives. Helping people be successful. Helping people pursue their goal and work that’s meaningful. People need to be meaningfully involved more than just making a living.”

Always a lifelong learner, Devereaux received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from St. Mary’s College in 1963 and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America in 1968. In 1973, the Pontifical College Josephinum conferred on him the degree of Master of Divinity. In 1985, he received a Doctorate of Ministry in Ecumenical Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation. In 2007, he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Pastoral Psychology from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

To this day, Devereaux tirelessly supports causes related to social justice and housing equality.