Monday, April 14, 2014

Fr. William Stoeger, SJ 1943-2014

Bill Stoeger has passed away. His obituary is here.

Jesuit Father William R. Stoeger, 70, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in Arizona, died March 24 at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, Calif., following a struggle with cancer. A funeral Mass for the priest was scheduled for March 28 in Los Gatos. He had been a Jesuit for 52 years. (CNS photo courtesy of the Vatican Observatory Foundation)I first met Bill via my doctoral thesis supervisor (James Pambrun, St. Paul / Ottawa) and Bill served as the external examiner for my thesis. Bill was an extraordinary man, combining the pastoral gifts he developed as a Jesuit with spectacular talent as an astrophysicist. His scientific training was conducted - in part - at Cambridge, where he worked with Stephen Hawking, among others.

Over the years, Bill and I exchanged a number of emails and met at several conferences, among which included a Catholic Theological Society of America meeting in 2003 and a Vatican Observatory / CTNS conference in 2003 at Castel Gandolfo. Bill was encouraging me to lead a project of contributions on Catholic interpretations of scientific anthropology (evolutionary psychology and so forth) despite the obstacles that lay in my path.

Bill was a generous scholar and priest. He was not given to any of the pretense that marks so many academics. He was enormously well respected by the scholars with whom he worked in the science-faith dialogue, being one of the first to call for a greater philosophical depth to the exchanges. He was also well known as one of the first to call for greater Catholic participation in the science-theology dialogue. Bill was a remarkable person. May he now enjoy the fullness of God's grace. R.I.P. Bill.

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