June 2, 2023 – Fr. John R. Keating, SJ, was born in New York City to James and Helena (Carrol) Keating on February 16, 1930. He attended Regis High School in Manhattan, and soon after graduating in 1948, he entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Two years later, on August 15, Fr. Keating took his first vows. After completing his Juniorate studies in 1952 Fr. Keating moved from Poughkeepsie to Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to study philosophy. There he earned a Licentiate in philosophy. In 1955, Fr. Keating returned for regency to his alma mater, Regis High School, to teach Latin and Greek.
In 1958 Fr. Keating travelled to Oise, France, for four years of theological studies at the College of St. Louis in Chantilly. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 6, 1961, at St. Leu d’Esserent, France. After theology in France, Fr. Keating had to brush up on his German for Tertianship at Sankt Andra, Karnten (Carinthia), Austria (1962-63). And we trust he was able to study a little Italian while in Tertianship since his next assignment was to the Gregorian University in Rome for four years of further studies in Theology and Sacred Scripture (1963-67). It was during this time that Fr. Keating took his final vows in the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1965.
In 1967 Fr. Keating returned to the United States and for the next two years (1967-69) he taught theology and sacred scripture at Fordham University. After a Sabbatical at Woodstock College (1969-70) he headed back to Rome to put the finishing touches on a Licentiate in sacred scripture at The Pontifical Biblical Institute (1970-71). For the next year, Fr. Keating came back to Fordham to teach Theology and Sacred Scripture (1971-72).
In 1972, Fr. Keating headed out west to the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in California where for the next 15 years (1972-87) he taught sacred scripture. In 1987, Fr. Keating moved back east to Georgetown University where he taught theology and served first as assistant editor of “Theological Studies” (1987-92), and then as professor of theology and managing editor of “Theological Studies” (1992-2000).
After finishing as editor of “Theological Studies” in 2000, Fr. Keating moved back to the Bronx, to the Fordham Jesuit Community at Loyola Hall, and served for a number of years as an adjunct professor of theology at the university. Although the Jesuit catalog lists Fr. Keating at Loyola Hall for twelve years, it was during this time that he “commuted” to the Philippines for a semester at a time from 2008 to 2011. There he taught Sacred Scripture at Loyola House of Studies on the campus of the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, a task he took on with delight as he moved into his eighties.
When Loyola Hall closed in 2012, Fr. Keating moved, along with many of his Jesuit confreres, across campus to the Jesuit health care residence at Murray-Weigel Hall. Despite his mobility issues later in life, Fr. Keating enjoyed tooling around in his motorized wheelchair. He immersed himself in literature and music which he loved. He remained an active member of the community, and whether he served as a house consultor or a member of some committee or other, his was always a voice of moderation. Despite his health deteriorating, he accepted his weaknesses with courage and cheerfulness and was always appreciative of the nurses and the aides who took such good care of him.
After a brief hospitalization, Fr. Keating came back home where he died, peacefully, in the early morning hours of May 31, 2023. It was the Feast of the Visitation.