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Remembering Jesuit Father George L. Drury

Sept. 29, 2016 - Fr. George Drury, SJ, was born in Somerville, a suburb of Boston, on Aug. 23, 1922, the third child of George and Florence (O’Toole) Drury. His father was a food and drug inspector for the state and his mother a school teacher. Because his older sisters Mary and Ann died as children, George was brought up as an only child. 

As a child he was an altar boy, learned to play the violin, and took up golf. He often travelled with his father on his inspection visits, frequently visiting an uncle, a diocesan priest in Pittsfield, Mass., who was a pianist with whom he would play duets. In his uncle’s company he got to know the Jesuit novitiate in nearby West Stockbridge, since the novitiate made its lakeside boathouse available to local clergy for swimming in Lake Mahkeenac. George attended Somerville schools until his parents decided he could commute to B.C. High in Boston’s South End. Very much influenced by the Jesuit scholastics he knew there, he applied to the Society and entered the Shadowbrook novitiate when he graduated, in 1939.

Two years later, he took vows and was in the juniorate when he and fellow scholastics were allowed to listen on the radio to President Roosevelt declare war in December 1941. During his philosophy studies, at Weston, he chose to study biology as a special discipline. Then he studied for a master’s degree in chemistry at Boston College during regency (1946-1949) and assisted in teaching biology lab courses. He returned to Weston to study theology and was ordained in 1952. After tertianship, at Pomfret, he was assigned to teach science courses to the philosophers at Weston. While at Weston he finished a master’s degree in biology at B.C. and began teaching biology courses there as well.

In 1964, Fr. Michael Walsh, SJ, the president of Boston College, who had been a mentor in his biology studies, asked George to become his executive assistant. In this capacity he traveled the country recruiting the best students in Jesuit high schools. The following year he took on the task of organizing a growing student-personnel staff, as BC rapidly evolved from a commuter school to a residential student body, eventually becoming BC’s first vice president for student affairs. A year later a new president asked him to take on the position of vice president for public relations. This took him further away from the classroom, students, and the challenges he saw students facing in the aftermath of Vatican II and the 60s, so he asked for permission to undertake a doctoral program in theology. He began studies at St. Paul’s University, in Ottawa, in 1969 and received the doctorate in 1974.

A directed 30-day experience of the Spiritual Exercises at Guelph, Ontario, in 1972, proved to be the seed of a different future. He was invited to return there on teams for subsequent retreats. That same year, he took up a position teaching at Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston and overseeing the program of spiritual direction for the seminarians. In 1975, the provincial asked him to become the first superior of the newly established Campion Center, a health-care facility for New England Jesuits—a position that required him to meet the state requirements for a licensed nursing-home administrator—and a retreat center for priests, religious, and lay people.

In 1980, he joined the retreat staff at Eastern Point, Gloucester. From that point on, spiritual direction, retreats, and teaching Ignatian spirituality became the focus of his life, at Gloucester (1980-1986), Campion Center (1986-1991), in Nairobi, Kenya (1991-1993), and Weston Jesuit School of Theology (1994-2009). In 2002 he moved to the Boston College community, which was more convenient for his ambulatory problems, but he maintained his teaching schedule at WJST and continued to direct retreats and see individuals for direction until 2012, when he moved to Campion Center.

His lifelong hobby was photography, especially of the sea and nature, and something of the photographer’s reverent and searching eye marked his personality. His warm, unruffled, supportive presence coexisted with a realistic but kind critical judgment. In his last years, dementia slowly carried him into a world of his own but he was a regular participant at the daily community Eucharist and his large smile seldom failed him whenever anyone greeted him. He died peacefully during the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2016.


Arrangements 

WAKE:

Thurs., Sept. 29, 2016
3:00-5:00 p.m. (Prayer Service at 4:30 p.m.)
Campion Center
319 Concord Road
Weston, MA

MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: 

Fri., Sept. 30, 2016
10:00 a.m., Chapel of the Holy Spirit
Campion Center

BURIAL:

Campion Center Cemetery






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Eastern Point Retreat House
Eastern Point Retreat House, a grand house located on the Atlantic shore in Gloucester, Mass., has been welcoming retreatants since 1958.