The passing of former President, Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J.

  WJU News
  Friday, January 11, 2019 2:22 PM
  WJU News

Wheeling, WV

A funeral Mass will take place this Saturday, Jan. 12, in Washington, D.C., for the Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J., former Wheeling Jesuit University president, who passed away last Friday at the age of 88.

A reverend leader in Jesuit higher education, Currie began his career serving as the fourth President of Wheeling Jesuit University. He came to the University in 1972 and remained on campus for 10 years. Currie went on to have many career highlights that included serving as President of Xavier University from 1982-1985, director of Georgetown University's Bicentennial celebration 1989, rector of the Jesuit community at Saint Joseph's University from 1991-1997, and as a faculty member at Georgetown and Saint Joseph's. Currie also serviced as President of The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities from 1997-2011.

A champion for social justice, Fr. Currie played an integral role in coordinating Georgetown's response to the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, in El Salvador. His trips to the University of Central America (where the eight individuals were killed), helped to inform the United States Congress on developments in the investigation of the murders, and brought greater awareness to the then-oppressive military regime in El Salvador.

Fr. Currie's work with El Salvador led him to co-found the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which brought student protesters to the School of the Americas (SOA) in Ft. Benning, GA, where several of the murderers had received military training. The Teach-In has grown in size and scope from its first gathering in 1996, and now draws nearly 2,000 students, faculty and staff from Jesuit colleges, high schools and parishes to Washington, D.C. every fall for advocacy training that honors the legacy of the martyrs in El Salvador.

During his time at AJCU, Fr. Currie oversaw the development of JesuitNET, the nation's first Jesuit distance education network; strengthened the Association's relationships with members of the U.S. Congress; created the Jesuit Leadership Seminar; and coordinated a joint response to Hurricane Katrina, that allowed students from Loyola University New Orleans to spend their fall 2005 semester at sister Jesuit institutions across the country.

After retiring from AJCU in 2011, Fr. Currie became executive director of Jesuit Commons, an initiative that grew from JesuitNET to provide online education to students in refugee camps.

The program is now known as Jesuit Worldwide Learning, and grants diplomas and certificates accredited by two U.S. Jesuit institutions: Regis University and Creighton University.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement on the passing of Currie.

“Paul (Pelosi) and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Father Charles Currie. His spiritual guidance and faith were an inspiration to us and to the countless members of the Georgetown community and Jesuit university communities who were privileged to know him.

“For Father Currie, the words of Saint Francis were his North Star: ‘Preach the gospel. Sometimes use words.’ He lived his faith through action, working tirelessly to promote justice and human rights at home and around the world.”

AJCU's current President, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., remarked on Fr. Currie's legacy. He said, “Charlie spotted the potential in people. He saw the good that you longed to do, but feared you couldn’t achieve. Then, he let you know he believed in you and was counting on you. Whether you were a politician, an office staff member, or a fellow Jesuit, Charlie’s confidence in you made all the difference.”

Fr. Currie was a beloved figure both within and outside of the Jesuit network. He remained proud of his roots in Philadelphia, but thrived on the energy of Capitol Hill during his years in Washington, D.C. His tireless energy, keen sense of humor, legendary story-telling skills, and enormous heart will all be greatly missed.

A wake will be held at the Wolfington Jesuit Community at Georgetown University today, Jan. 11, from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., followed by a Vigil Service at 7:30 p.m. A funeral will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., preceded by a viewing at 9:30 a.m.

A memorial mass is also planned to be celebrated on Wheeling Jesuit's campus. Details of the mass will be announced soon.

Wheeling Jesuit University is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country offering 25 majors and concentrations, 15 minors, and six graduate programs. The University provides a Jesuit, Catholic, liberal arts education, and our affordable programs unite the Jesuit tradition of intellectual excellence allowing students to receive an education for life, leadership and service with and among others. The 65-acre campus is situated on the Ohio River 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, and two hours east of Columbus, in Wheeling, WV.

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