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June 7, 1916, to July 13, 2012
Fr. Walter L. Farrell, SJ, dedicated Jesuit for 78 years, died on Friday, July 13, 212 at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. Born on June 7, 1916, in Cleveland, Ohio, Fr. Farrell was born to James and Dorothy (Lewis) Farrell.
After receiving his diploma from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland in 1934, Fr. Farrell entered the Milford Novitiate on August 7. During an interview in 2011, when Fr. Farrell was asked about how his vocation with the Jesuits came to be he responded, “When my older brother, Jim, left home and entered the novitiate, I obviously thought about it. I worried that people might think I only entered to follow in my brother’s footsteps. Then I realized that if that’s what’s I’m supposed to do, let’s do it.” Fr. Farrell attributed much of his interest in the Jesuits to a scholastic, Jake Howard, who taught Greek at St. Ignatius. “I found Jake to be an excellent teacher and a very impressive young man,” explained Fr. Farrell. “The society was an attractive thing. I wasn’t driven away from the diocesan priesthood, I just never thought seriously about becoming a diocesan priest.” He was ordained a priest on June 18, 1947, at West Baden College and took final vows on August 15, 1951.
Throughout his life, Fr. Farrell directed the Spiritual Exercises and shared his considerable knowledge and understanding of the history, Institute, and workings of the Society of Jesus with others. He was entrusted with bestowing Ignatian Spirituality as Director of the Spiritual Exercises Center at Colombiere Center (1973-80), serving on the Archdiocese of Detroit Continuing Formation of Team (1979-81), President of Jesuit Retreat & Renewal Ministries (1980-1981), Director of the Romero Center (1981-83), National Ecclesial Assistant for Christian Life Communities (1991-96), and as Acting Director of Manresa Jesuit Retreat House (2007-08).
Along with the many important roles listed above, Fr. Farrell also taught rational psychology at the University of Detroit (1952-53) and West Baden College (1953-65). He offered direction, guidance, and leadership to members of the Society as Rector of West Baden (1958-65), Consultor to the Detroit Provincial (1962-65), Provincial of the Detroit Province (1965-71), Detroit Province Delegate to General Congregations 31 (1966) and 32 (1974-75), Secretary for Formation at the USA Jesuit Conference (1971-76), Tertian director (1976-78 and 1990-96), President of the USA Jesuit Conference (1984-90), Treasurer of the Detroit Province (1996-2007), Consultant to the Provincial on Ignatian Values in Ministry (1996-2011).
“Father Farrell was a giant in the Society of Jesus. He offered care, instruction, and guidance both inside and outside the Society,” said Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province. “Many people around the world experienced Fr. Farrell’s wisdom, influence, and wry sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.”
Memorial gifts may be made to The Jesuits, 2050 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60614.
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