Remembering Jesuit Father William P. Poorten

Nov. 16, 2018 - Fr. William P. Poorten SJ, was called to eternal life on Nov. 14, 2018. Fr. Poorten died at Murray-Weigel Hall, Bronx, N.Y. He was born on June 28, 1930, in Buffalo, N.Y., entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Sept. 7, 1949, and was ordained on June 19, 1963, in Buffalo, N.Y. He pronounced his final vows at McQuaid Jesuit High School, Rochester, N.Y., on Feb. 2, 1967.

Fr. Poorten, was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., the child of Henry and Theresa (Koller) Poorten. After graduating from Canisius High School in 1948, he attended Canisius College for one year before entering the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson. 

In 1953, Fr. Poorten began his study of philosophy at Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y. After two years he moved to Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, N.Y., to complete his philosophy studies. 

He then returned to Buffalo, N.Y., to teach Latin and Greek at Canisius High School (1956-1959). After regency he went to Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., (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.

After his tertianship in St. Bueno’s in Wales, England (1963-1964), Fr. Poorten taught Latin, religion, communications and English at McQuaid High School in Rochester, N.Y., 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, Pa., 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, N.J. 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, N.Y. 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.



Sunday, November 18, 2018
Murray-Weigel Hall Chapel
3:00-5:00 p.m. and 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Prayer Service at 7:00 p.m.)
515 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY  10458


Monday, November 19, 2018—11:30 a.m.
Murray-Weigel Hall
515 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY  10458


Jesuit Cemetery, Auriesville, NY

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