NEARON, JOSEPH R. (4 Dec. 1928-7 June 1984) was a priest of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. During his priestly years, he was both a professor of religious studies and a leader in the Catholic African-American community.
Born in Yonkers, New York, son of Roy and Josephine Nearon, Joseph earned his B.A. from Manhatten College, and then in 1951 entered the novitiate of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Barre, MA. In 1952 he came to Cleveland where he continued his studies at the order's St. Joseph Seminary, 17608 Euclid Avenue. He then was sent to Rome to complete his studies at the Gregorian University. He was ordained there 10 Oct. 1955. He later returned to the Gregorian, earning a doctorate in sacred theology.
In 1959 Nearon was assigned to Cleveland to teach at St. Joseph Seminary. In 1967 he joined the religious studies faculty at JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY, and from 1969 through 1976 served as its chairman. In 1978 he became superior of the Cleveland Blessed Sacrament community.
In 1980-1981, Nearon was assigned to teach at St. Paul Inter-territorial Seminary at Gbanga, Liberia. His stay shortened by illness, he returned to the United States in 1981 and joined the faculty of Xavier University, New Orleans. There he helped found the Institute of Black Catholic Studies. The last three years of his life were devoted to issues concerning African-American Catholics.
In 1984, while on a trip back to Cleveland, Nearon took ill. Hospitalized in Fort Oglethorpe, GA, he succumbed to encephalitis and pneumonia. Funeral services were held at St. Paschal Baylon Church in HIGHLAND HTS.; burial was in St. Paul's Cemetery in EUCLID.