News
Fr. Howard Gray, SJ
Fr. Howard Gray, SJ, Ignatian Spirituality Scholar, Dies at Age 87

May 10, 2018 — Jesuit Father Howard J. Gray, an internationally known scholar on Ignatian spirituality, died May 7, 2018, from injuries he sustained in a car accident in Michigan. The 87-year-old priest conducted retreats, taught and spoke around the world, helping people encounter Jesus through the Eucharist and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Gray was one of a group of Jesuits and laypeople who helped bring back one-on-one personally directed retreats in the 1960s. His writings on Ignatian spirituality made him a popular speaker and retreat leader eagerly sought by parishes and organizations around the world.

In his seven decades as a Jesuit, Fr. Gray authored more than 60 articles and essays on Ignatian spirituality, ministry and the apostolic mission of Jesuit high schools and universities. He also received six honorary doctorate degrees. 

“Howard’s deep love of the written word brought poetry and prose to Ignatian spirituality. When words could bring consolation to souls, Howard always found them,” said Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

Born May 23, 1930, in Cleveland, Fr. Gray entered the Society of Jesus in Milford, Ohio, in 1948. He was ordained in Detroit in 1961 and pronounced final vows as a Jesuit in 1965.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Loyola University Chicago. He also earned licentiates in philosophy and theology from West Baden College in Indiana. He studied for a doctorate in English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison between 1965 and 1968, where he also was a Knapp Fellow.

Fr. Gray served as rector of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Massachusetts (now the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry) from 1976 to 1982 and was dean of the theologate for a year before becoming the provincial of the Jesuits’ Detroit Province, a post he held from 1983 to 1989. He also served for a period as vice president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in the 1980s.

At the age of 66, Fr. Gray left internal governance and formation work in the Society to become the first director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Boston College, serving from 1996 to 2001. He then served as rector of the Jesuit community and assistant to the president for university mission at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio.

In 2007, he moved to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., becoming assistant to the president for special projects, a position he held for a decade. In his final year at the university, he served as interim vice president for mission and ministry. Fr. Gray was a delegate at two Jesuit General Congregations: the 33rd (in 1983) while provincial and the 34th (in 1995) while Tertian Director.

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, (left) with Fr. Howard Gray, SJ

Throughout his Jesuit life, he gave retreats (both preached and directed) and spiritual direction, lectured and wrote about Ignatian spirituality. His lectures, talks and retreats took him all over the United States and throughout the world, including East Africa, East Asia, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

His funeral will be May 12 at Gesu Parish in University Heights; Fr. Kesicki will celebrate his Funeral Mass.

“Howard Gray accepted me into the Society of Jesus in 1984. From my first encounter with him as a Jesuit novice to the present day, I have considered him a dear mentor and friend,” said Fr. Kesicki. [Sources: Catholic News Service, Midwest Jesuits]





Recent News

September 24, 2018 — Jesuit Father Joseph T. Bennett was called to eternal life on Sept. 23, 2018. Fr. Sable was born on Dec. 19, 1926, and entered the Jesuits at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Mass., on Aug. 14, 1944. He was ordained in June 1957 and pronounced final vows on May 4, 1989.

September 22, 2018 — Jesuit Father Thomas F. Sable was called to eternal life on Sept. 21, 2018. Fr. Sable was born on Aug. 16, 1945, and entered the Jesuits at Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., on July 30, 1963. He was ordained in June 1975 and pronounced final vows on Feb. 2, 1987.

September 17, 2018 — Today is the feast day of Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), a Jesuit who was one of the most important cardinals of the Catholic Reformation.

September 14, 2018 — Ever wondered how Jesuits become Jesuits? The total journey toward Jesuit priesthood or formed brotherhood can take from eight to 13 years.

September 10, 2018 — Jesuit institutions were featured prominently on the 2019 U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of the best U.S. colleges and universities.

Sept. 7, 2018 - In his September prayer video, Pope Francis asked us in joining him in praying for the young people in Africa. "Let us pray that young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.”

Aug. 29, 2018 - In our most recent issue of JESUITS magazine, we wrote about some of the new leaders working at our Jesuit apostolates in the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces.

view all news

Search news







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.