Jesuit Father John J. Navone died on Dec. 25, 2016, at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. He was 86.
A scholar and teacher in Catholic theology, prodigious writer and editor of several books and articles, and exquisite host; these descriptions only begin to tell the story of this deeply spiritual and gregarious Jesuit priest.
Born in Seattle on Oct. 19, 1930, to James and Juliet (Micheli) Navone, John was the eldest of six siblings. He grew up in Seattle and graduated from Seattle Preparatory in 1948. He attended Seattle University for one year before entering the Jesuit Novitiate (Sheridan, Oregon) in August 1949. Fr. Navone followed the regular course of studies and teaching for Jesuits and was ordained a priest in Spokane on June 16, 1962.
Showing great interest in Catholic theology, Fr. Navone earned a doctorate in that field from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1966. He was accepted as a faculty member there a year later and remained there for 40 years. It was in Rome where he wrote most of his 23 books and numerous articles. His summers were regularly spent in Seattle or Spokane teaching summer school. When visitors came to Rome, Fr. Navone was a gracious host and tour guide. His fluency in the Italian language and knowledge of important places and people made these trips memorable.
Following his retirement in 2007, Fr. Navone came to Gonzaga University and was a scholar-in-residence for the Florence, Italy program for two years. He was always interested in discovering new ideas, meeting with people, and solving problems. Fr. Navone would regularly bring staff and faculty to lunch at the Jesuit residence to hear their stories and to share Jesuit history and philosophy with them.
Fr. Navone was preceded in death by his father and mother. He is survived by his sisters, Helen Gleason and Catherine Mullally, and his brothers, Joseph, James, and George Navone. There are many nephews, nieces, cousins, dear friends as well as his brother Jesuits who mourn his passing.