Jesuit Father Joseph R. Rooney died Feb. 3, 2014, at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx, N.Y. He was 79. Fr. Rooney was born July 26, 1934, in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y., to Eugene and Anna (Hand) Rooney. After graduation from Xavier High School and Mt. Saint Michael High School in 1952, he attended St. Francis College in New York City for one year. He then followed his two older brothers, Eugene and Francis, into the Jesuits, entering the novitiate of St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1953. Following his novitiate and collegiate studies there, he was assigned to the study of philosophy at Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, N.Y.
He taught physics and general science at Xavier High School from 1960-63, then studied theology in preparation for the priesthood at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md. He was ordained a priest at the Fordham University Chapel on June 6, 1966. His last year of spiritual formation took him to St. Buenos College, Wales. He then began a 30-year career in the high school classroom, teaching physics at Fordham Prep, interrupted only by one year on sabbatical at Fordham University.
While teaching at Fordham Prep, during the summer vacation from the classroom he regularly traveled West and served in parishes in Utah to allow local priests to enjoy a summer break. After retiring from teaching, he decided to devote full time to pastoral ministry in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. From 1998 to 2004 he was first administrator and then pastor at Saint Pius X Church in Moab and Saint Joseph Parish in Monticello. From 2004 to 2012 he was pastor at San Andres Parish in Payson and Saint Patrick Parish in Eureka. This also enabled him to take up his favorite hobby of landscape photography in southern Utah.
He regularly traveled many miles to celebrate weekend Masses and was noted as a compassionate, generous priest who usually, one parishioner noted, ended his sermons with a question for further prayerful reflection.
Declining health dictated that he move back East and so in 2012 he was assigned to pray for the Church and the Society at the Jesuit infirmary at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx, where he was reunited with his older brother Francis, also a Jesuit priest in residence there.
Fr. Rooney died Feb. 3, two months after his brother, Jesuit Father Francis Rooney. He is survived by his oldest brother, Father Eugene Rooney, who resides at the Colombiere Jesuit Community in Baltimore, Md.