2013-12-06@13.58.30 Father Edward Oakes, S.J., distinguished theologian, gifted writer and teacher, generous ecumenist, and our friend, has died, of pancreatic cancer, at 8:00 this morning. The announcement from the Academy of Catholic Theology, of which Father Oakes was president, reports:

Father Oakes entered the Society of Jesus in 1966, and was ordained a priest in 1979.  He received his doctorate in theology from Union Theological Seminary in 1987.  He taught at New York University, Regis University, and Mundelein Seminary, where he was deeply loved and valued by his colleagues, students, and indeed everyone on the staff as well.

He was a major contributor to the ecumenical magazine  First Things  on theological and scientific topics, and a longtime close friend of Father Richard John Neuhaus.  For close to two decades he was an influential member of Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  He was a founding member of the Academy of Catholic Theology and was elected president of the Academy in May 2013.

A deeply cultured man, Father Oakes enlivened everything of which he was a part by his penetrating intelligence and warm, friendly spirit.  He was an esteemed translator of the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar and others. He was the author and editor of important works such as  Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology , Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar , and  The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar.

To say that Father Oakes will be sorely missed is a profound understatement.  Let us pray for his soul as he enters into the infinitely loving communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as an adopted son in Jesus Christ!


Many of us here got to know him through Evangelicals and Catholics Together and his occasional visits to the office. Father Ed was a witty and entertaining guest, the kind who enlivens dinner parties, but also a man of weight and insight, the kind who deepens dinner parties—and then enlivens them again. The enlivening and deepening expressed not just his gifts and personality (both of which were large) but his concern for people (which was also large), that is, his character. He will be missed, on many levels.

We commend him to your prayers.

Articles by David Mills

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