Fr. Edward Oakes, SJ, giving a lecture in 2012 at the Lumen Christi Institute
From David Mills of First Things
, this sad news
Edward Oakes, S.J., distinguished theologian, gifted writer and
teacher, generous ecumenist, and our friend, has died, of pancreatic
cancer, at 8:00 this morning.
Mills provides some biographical
information courtesy of the Academy of Catholic Theology, "of which
Father Oakes was president":
Father Oakes entered
the Society of Jesus in 1966, and was ordained a priest in 1979. He
received his doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in
1987. He taught at New York University, Regis University, and Mundelein
Seminary, where he was deeply loved and valued by his colleagues,
students, and indeed everyone on the staff as well.
He was a major contributor to the ecumenical magazine First Things on
theological and scientific topics, and a longtime close friend of
Father Richard John Neuhaus. For close to two decades he was an
influential member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was a
founding member of the Academy of Catholic Theology and was elected
president of the Academy in May 2013.
A deeply cultured man,
Father Oakes enlivened everything of which he was a part by his
penetrating intelligence and warm, friendly spirit. He was an esteemed
translator of the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar and others. He was the
author and editor of important works such as Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology, Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar.
say that Father Oakes will be sorely missed is a profound
understatement. Let us pray for his soul as he enters into
the infinitely loving communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as
an adopted son in Jesus Christ!
I did not know Fr. Oakes personally, but have read with great profit many of his essays over the years (here is a listing of some of his writings). This past summer, I e-mailed Fr. Oakes and invited him to participate in the CWR Symposium on "Vatican II, Salvation, and the Unsaved". He replied:
you very much for your kind invitation. Unfortunately, I have recently
been diagnosed with cancer; so I must regretfully decline. The attached
circular letter to my fellow Mo Prov. Jesuits will explain the details.
Please keep me
in your prayers. I am now reading the fine biography of Augustus Tolton
from Ignatius Press, so don't forget to ask for his intercession!
In his letter to his fellow Jesuits, Fr. Oakes reiterated his request for prayers for the intercession of Fr. Tolton:
about we all pray for the intercession of Fr. Augustus Tolton? His
cause is now being promoted by the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was the
first African-American priest in the United States, and much abused by
the racism of his day, to such an extent he had to forsake the
Archdiocese of Chicago for Quincy, Illinois. (I like the irony that his
cause is now being promoted by his erstwhile nemesis!) But he never lost
his faith in God, or his zeal for souls, or his love for the Church
and he never lost his love for his people, whether they loved him or
despised him. Terar dum prosim indeed: “Let me be worn out, so long as I can serve.”
consider saying a prayer for the respose of the soul of Fr. Oakes, a
great scholar, teacher, writer, and Jesuit. May God grant him mercy and
[Note: The photo of Fr. Oakes above is from a video of a lecture he gave in 2012 on Vatican II for the Lumen Christi Institute.]