Rev. Donald Senior dead at 82; headed Catholic Theological Union
The renowned biblical scholar loved walking the streets of Hyde Park every day and taking groups of students to experience the Holy Land.
As head of the Catholic Theological Union, the Rev. Donald Senior taught thousands — not only priests, but also lay people, like high school religion teachers, chaplains and deacons.
He was a world renowned biblical scholar, author of numerous books and, beginning in 2001, served on the Pontifical Biblical Commission, where he provided counsel to three popes.
Rev. Senior died Tuesday following a stroke. He was 82.
He was a walker, taking daily walks around Hyde Park, where he lived across the street from the Catholic Theological Union. And he loved strolling the Holy Land, where Jesus himself walked.
Rev. Senior began a program to bring students on 12-day trips to see the places where Christianity was born and delighted in bringing the Bible to life for those travelers.
He served two stints as president of the Catholic Theological Union, from 1987 to 1994, and again from 1997 to 2013 — 23 years in all, before being appointed president emeritus and chancellor. He also was a member of the faculty as professor of the New Testament, which was his area of specialty.
“He brought to the service of the Church and humanity a dedicated scholarship, a commitment to life-long learning and an unswerving witness to the Gospel in his personal life,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement. “His writings, teaching and priestly ministry have been a source of encouragement for many, including myself. I will miss his friendship, his wit and his gentle spirit. May he be welcomed into the fullness of life, made possible through the passion of Christ.”
Rev. Senior was born in Philadelphia and grew up with two sisters.
Every time he opened his phone, a picture of his late sister, Miriam, popped up on the screen. She had lived at Misericordia, a North Side facility for people with developmental disabilities.
Rev. Senior was a member of the Passionists religious order and was ordained a priest in 1967.
He was a frequent lecturer and speaker throughout the United States and abroad and was actively involved in inter-religious dialogue, particularly with the Jewish and Muslim communities.
In 2014 he was granted by the governor of Illinois the Order of Lincoln Award, the state’s highest honor for public service.
A wake is scheduled for Monday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 5472 S. Kimbark Ave. A funeral Mass is planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday, also at St. Thomas.