Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fr. Thomas King, S. J. (1929-2009)

Legendary Georgetown University theology professor, Fr. Thomas King, S. J., died last night. He was the founding president of University Faculty for Life, an academic society on whose board I sit. We will miss our beloved Fr. King.

The following appeared last night on the website of The Hoya, Georgetown's student newspaper:
Fr. Thomas King, S.J., a respected member of the Georgetown community for 41 years, passed away today at age 80, confirmed Fr. Eugene Nolan, S.J.

King was a professor of theology; he taught The Problem of God and classes covering the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Jean Paul Sartre and C. G. Jung.

King also was a strong presence outside of the classroom. During his second year of teaching at Georgetown, he began offering 11:15 p.m. Mass six days a week at Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart. These masses have become increasingly popular with Georgetown’s student body over the past 40 years.

He had also served as a chaplain in residence and was an active participant in student retreats.

During his time at Georgetown, King wrote nine novels, including “Teilhard’s Mass: Approaches to ‘The Mass on the World’” (published in 2005) and “Jung’s Four and Some Philosophers: A Paradigm for Philosophy” (published in 1999).

In 1999, The Hoya named King “Georgetown’s Man of the Century,” claiming that “no one has had a more significant presence on campus and effect on students than Father King.”

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Update: I just received this from my friend Fr. Joseph Koterski, S. J., a fellow UFL board member: "The funeral Mass for Father King is scheduled for 9am on Saturday June 27, 2009 in Dahlgren Chapel on the Georgetown University Campus. The wake will take place all day and evening on Friday June 26th. Burial will be in the Jesuit Cemetary on the Georgetown campus."

(Originally posted on First Thoughts)


Anonymous said...

By the grace of God, I and my daughter just saw Father King and spent most of a day with him less than a month ago to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his teaching The Problem of God and of his celebrating the 11:15 Mass. We got to attend the first lecture in the course, a testimonial dinner, and the 11:15 Mass for Pentecost. I had Father King for The Problem of God in Fall 1972 and Kirkegaard & Wittgenstein in Spring 1974. Of course, he was a fabulous teacher and wonderful human being. But even better, in recent years, as Georgetown University succumbed to pressure to secularize (promoting its most powerful alumnus Bill Clinton & covering the crucifix when Obama came to speak), and to downplay Catholic teaching on life issues (totally silent on abortion), Father King remained faithful and vigilant. At the celebration, one person asked why Fr. King had inspired so many vocations to the priesthood, brotherhood, and sisterhood. In my opinion, part of it was that he was the very picture of a happy, effective, and totally faithful priest and teacher. Thank you, God, for allowing me to have known Father King! Dr. Elise Nugent Rose
(using my daughter's Live Journal account; my email is botanist53 at yahoo dot com)

JesuitJedi said...

Thanks be to God I was able to see Father King 2 weeks ago when I attended a conference at Georgetown. It was 20 years ago this month that Father King introduced me to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius during an 8-day retreat. He was the first to suggest that I had a Jesuit vocation. I am consoled by the belief that he will be a great intercessor for us in Heaven.

Gabrielle said...

I was deeply saddened by the news of Father King's death. Having "discovered" Teilhard de Chardin in the 1950s, it wasn't until I took a couple of classes from Father King in the 90s that I began to understand Teilhard's works. Recently, I attended a seminar, "Spirituality for the 21st Century," at our parish (Saint Andrew by the Bay). Teilhard was one of the spiritual thinkers we studied, and my favorite of course. My husband and I just returned to the area after 9 years in Tucson, AZ, and I have been wanting to contact Father Tom. It is my loss I failed to do so, but I believe he is now enjoying his eternal reward, and I feel blessed to have known him!