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April 2, 2024 – Fr. Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, was born on May 9, 1931, in Malden, Mass.  In 1949, he began his undergraduate studies at Boston College. This would be the start of a long career at Boston College, first as a student, then as a teacher and eventually an administrator.

Fr. Appleyard entered the Society of Jesus shortly after he graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1953. For the next two years he was in the novitiate at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Mass. He professed his first vows in 1955 and over the next year he completed his juniorate.

From 1956 to 1958 he studied philosophy at Weston College in Weston, Mass. He then went on to pursue his PhD in English at Harvard University. He would go on to receive his doctorate in English in 1964. In 1963, he was sent to live abroad and spent the next four years studying theology at Canisianum, in Maastricht, Netherlands. In 1966, he was ordained in Maastricht by Bishop Henricus Beel.

Fr. Appleyard returned to the states and joined the Boston College faculty as an assistant professor of English. He was promoted to associate professor in 1969. In 1973 he took a year-long sabbatical, first in India and then in England.

In 1974, he returned to Boston College and taught English for a year. From 1976 to 1998 he continued to teach English as a full professor. He served as the department chair from 1979-1982, and directed the College of Arts and Sciences’ Honors Program from 1987-1997.

From 1991 to 1997, Fr. Appleyard was the rector of BC’s Jesuit Community, responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being the community. He also served as a member of Boston College’s Board of Trustees.

In 1998, he was named Boston College’s inaugural vice president for University Mission and Ministry. In that role, Fr. Appleyard directed resources and support for programs promoting the University’s mission, particularly its Catholic and Jesuit aspects, and in areas such as academic affairs, student affairs, human resources, and university relations.

During his long career at the Heights, Fr. Appleyard was highly regarded for his valuable contributions to the University’s intellectual framework, approach to student formation, and engagement of faculty and staff. Through a grant from the Lilly Foundation, he founded the Intersections Program in 2001, creating one of the University’s most popular and successful formation initiatives.

He left Boston College in 2010 to assume the role of socius for what was then the New England Province of the Society of Jesus. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston College.

In 2015, his time as socius came to a close and he moved to Campion Center in Weston, Mass. It was here where he was missioned with praying for the Church and the Society. He was also involved with prison ministry during this time. In 2023, his health started to decline, and he was finally moved to the Campion Health and Wellness Center.

Fr. Appleyard died on March 25, 2024, at the age of 92. Fr. Appleyard is survived by his brothers William and Richard, his sister-in-law Elizabeth, and many nieces and nephews.