The Rev. Joseph A. Cawley, 86, St. Ignatius associate pastor

December 20, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Joseph A. Cawley, Society of Jesus, former associate pastor at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church and president of Loyola High School, died Dec. 4 of cancer at the Province Infirmary at Loyola Center in Philadelphia. He was 86.

Father Cawley, who taught at Loyola College in Baltimore during the 1940s, was later rector of the Jesuit Community and president of Loyola High School at Blakefield from 1960 to 1966.

He was associate pastor of historic St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church on North Calvert Street from 1989 to 1991, when he retired to the order's retirement community in Wernersville, Pa.

The former chemistry teacher and Jesuit community administrator, who continued wearing the traditional black Jesuit cassock after it fell out of use, was a familiar figure in Baltimore where he was known for his Irish ways and witty sermons that reflected his long years in the classroom.

At Christmas Mass at St. Ignatius several years ago, Father Cawley reminded communicants that, "It was said in Scotland and England and Ireland that before the midnight Mass, the church bells toll for an hour. It was said they tolled because when Christ was born, the devil died."

"I remember his homilies as being deftly drawn cameos on whatever saint the church was remembering that day," Jay Merwin, a Baltimore attorney, said.

"Even if he were talking about a saint who had suffered, there was always a tinge of merriment in the delivery that said all things ultimately worked for the good," Mr. Merwin said.

During his years at Loyola High School, Father Cawley was known for quickly granting holidays or an afternoon off if he sensed the school needed a break or he was pleased with the performance of a student or class.

"He didn't govern by management objectives and that would of course drive today's educational consultants crazy. He governed with his feet and spent his days walking all over the campus talking to faculty and visiting classrooms," Rev. James F. McAndrews, S.J., president of Loyola High School, said yesterday.

"I'm sitting in his old office, a place that he never visited," Father McAndrews said, laughing.

"He made a great impression on both students and parents alike, and it was obvious that he had a great touch with people," he said.

L He was a "man filled with the faith," Father McAndrews said.

Dr. Donald W. Urbancic, headmaster of the Towson school, who was hired by Father Cawley, recalled him wandering into his biology classes and asking the students, "What is a Lepidoptera?"

"After they roared, 'a butterfly,' he'd say, 'O.K. Take the rest of the day off,' " Dr. Urbancic said.

Dr. Urbancic described him as "an absolutely wonderful man who had an incredible sense of humor. There was not an ounce of pretension in the man."

Father Cawley was born and raised in Scranton, Pa., and was a graduate of St. Thomas High School. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1932 and completed his religious studies at St. Andrews-on-Hudson Seminary in New York.

He completed philosophy studies at Weston, Mass., and studied theology at Woodstock College in Woodstock in Howard County. He was ordained in 1942 and took his final vows as a priest in 1945.

He taught chemistry at the University of Scranton from 1944 to 1950 and, after several other assignments, returned to Scranton in 1966. He was administrator of the Jesuit Community there until 1973 when he became pastor of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Scranton.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 10: 15 a.m. tomorrow at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St.

He is survived by a brother, Richard T. Cawley of Archbald, Pa., and three sisters, Sr. Anna Cawley of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., Clare Cawley and Mary Cawley, both of Archbald.

Pub Date: 12/20/97

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