Jesuit Father William P. Poorten died on Nov. 14, 2018, at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx, New York.
Fr. Poorten was born on June 28, 1930, and raised in Buffalo, New York, the child of Henry and Theresa (Koller) Poorten. After graduating from Canisius High School in Buffalo in 1948, he attended Canisius College for one year before entering the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York on Sept. 7, 1949.
In 1953, Fr. Poorten began his study of philosophy at Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, New York. After two years he moved to Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, New York, to complete his philosophy studies.
He then returned to Buffalo to teach Latin and Greek at Canisius High School (1956-1959). After regency he went to Woodstock College in Woodstock, Maryland, (1959-1963) to study theology and prepare for priestly ministry. Bishop James McNulty, the Bishop of Buffalo, ordained him to the priesthood at Canisius College on June 19, 1963.
After his tertianship in St. Bueno’s in Wales, England (1963-1964), he pronounced his final vows at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York, on Feb. 2, 1967. Fr. Poorten taught Latin, religion, communications and English at McQuaid High School until 1978. During this time, he was also superior of the McQuaid Jesuit Community (1972–1978).
Fr. Poorten was given a sabbatical after his work at McQuaid. During the fall semester of 1978, he went to Notre Dame University in Indiana to the Institute for Clergy Education, and in the spring semester of 1979 he worked at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville, Pennsylvania, directing retreats.
In the summer of 1979, Fr. Poorten began a 31-year ministry of spiritual direction. From 1979 to 1991, he directed retreatants at Loyola House of Retreats in Morristown, New Jersey. During the last six years he also served as superior of the Jesuits there.
Fr. Poorten was then given another sabbatical, which he spent in California. He was at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley in the Fall of 1991 and in Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles the following spring. Until 1999, he continued his spiritual direction and retreat ministry at the retreat house at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Auriesville, New York. He also served as superior of the Jesuit Community there for two years (1994-1996).
In 1999, Fr. Poorten returned to Loyola Retreat House in Morristown and continued giving spiritual direction and directing retreats until 2010. That year he returned to his native Buffalo as an associate pastor of St. Michael’s Church. He remained in Buffalo until 2014 when, because of declining health, he came to Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx. There he continued to do spiritual direction for a number of individuals while praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus.
Fr. Poorten was a dedicated minister of the Eucharist to the sick and room-bound Jesuits, a comedian with a dry wit, and an adequate bridge player. He is missed by his many friends, both Jesuit and lay, and especially by his devoted family. May he find rest and peace in the arms of the God who directed his life.