Class Notes | Obituaries
Showing obituaries submitted in last 6 months by graduates in 1979
Catholic theologian and professor Edward T. Oakes, S.J. M.Div. '79 died in St. Louis Dec. 6, prompting his colleagues to remember his work in Christology, his wit, and his lasting effect on students.
"Fr. Oakes was a unique scholar, largely because of his Jesuit background in Classics, where he was able to really do theology within the full richness and the full texture of the Western intellectual tradition," Fr. Thomas Baima, vice-rector for academic affairs at Mundelein Seminary, told CNA. "He was a very pleasant and gregarious personality. A little bit quirky, as scholars often are," the vice-rector continued. "I always thought him delightful. He had a great wit and was very interested in current events."
Fr. Oakes, who was elected president of the Academy of Catholic Theology in 2013, had taught at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago from 2002 until October 2013, when he entered hospice care at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis. He died of complications of pancreatic cancer, the Jesuits' Missouri Province said. The Kansas City, Mo. native was 65-years-old. Fr. Baima said Fr. Oakes was best known for the "extraordinary amount of work" he did on the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century who is widely considered to be an influence on the thought of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Fr. Oakes was involved in the ecumenical group Evangelicals and Catholics Together and was a major contributor to to the ecumenical journal "First Things."
He joined the Society of Jesus in 1966 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979. He taught at New York University and Regis University in Denver. He had served as a scholar in residence at Cambridge University and taught English, theater and drama at St. Louis University High School. He held a doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary, a bachelor's and master's degree in philosophy from St. Louis University and a master of divinity in scripture from Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.
His books include "Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar" and "Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology." Before his death he was working on a project involving the theological debate about grace and nature, Fr. Baima said. The Academy of Catholic Theology remembered Fr. Oakes as "a deeply cultured man" who "enlivened everything of which he was a part by his penetrating intelligence and warm, friendly spirit."
The Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus said in a statement that Fr. Oakes was "a joyful man" who "loved studies and the intellectual life." Fr. Baima also remembered the priest's dedication as a teacher. He recalled that one of the last public events Fr. Oakes attended at Mundelein Seminary was an Oct. 5 celebration of his book "Infinity Dwindled to Infancy." "A number of his former students, including doctoral students, came to the event," the seminary vice-rector said. "We were particularly touched by the long-term affection that they maintained for all he had done for them." "He was a teacher who was completely there for his students. He was 'all on' when it came to being a teacher," Fr. Baima said.
The Academy of Catholic Theology asked for prayers for the soul of Fr. Oakes, adding "to say that Father Oakes will be sorely missed is a profound understatement."
Albert A. Agresti, S.J. M.Div. ’79, ThM ’81 December 13, 2013 in Lebanon, N.H. Al was born in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 5th, 1949, the son of Michael and Evelyn Sera Agresti. The family home was in Quincy and Al attended local schools there, graduating from North Quincy High School. He studied history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and when he received his B.A. degree, in 1971, he entered the novitiate of the New England Province, St. Andrew House, on Newbury Street in Boston. After first vows, in 1973, he did collegian studies at Boston College, earning an M.A. in philosophy. He spent a year as a regent, teaching English at the Cranwell School, Lenox, Mass., in 1974-75. From 1975 to 1979 he studied theology at JSTB, Berkeley, Calif., interrupting his studies there for 18 months of Clinical Pastoral Education at Bon Secours Hospital in Methuen, Mass. He was a campus minister at the University of San Francisco from 1979 to 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood at the College of the Holy Cross, in 1980. From 1981 to 1986 he studied counseling psychology at Ohio State. With his doctorate in hand, he taught psychology at several universities: Boston College, Loyola University Chicago, the University of San Francisco, and San Jose State University. He was associate dean at St. Louis University and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Creighton University. From 2005 to 2007, he engaged in retreat ministry, at Gloucester and then at Campion Center, including serving as director of the Renewal Center there. From 2007 to 2011, he was Catholic chaplain at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, N.H. His administrative talents led to his being invited to become senior manager of operations for graduate medical education at the medical center, which is affiliated with Dartmouth Medical School. He belonged to a number of professional and scholarly associations. Quite recently, he received a diagnosis of a serious medical condition and he was making plans to step down from his position. Friends became concerned when he failed to keep appointments. He was found dead in his apartment on Friday, Dec.13. Al is survived by two brothers, Joseph Agresti (of Naples, Fla.) and Carmen Agresti (of Stoughton, Mass.); his nephews Jason, Paul, and Adam Agresti; two aunts, Enes Centofanti and Adela Contrada; and several cousins and grandnephews and grandnieces.