Joseph M. Healy

Former Jesuit Priest Worked 30 Years At Loyola College, Helping Establish The School's Study Abroad Program

August 20, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,

Joseph M. Healy, a former Jesuit priest who was associate director of institutional programs at Loyola College, where he also taught theology and philosophy, died Aug. 13 of esophageal cancer at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. The longtime Charles Village resident was 75.

Mr. Healy, the son of a copy editor and a telephone operator, was born and raised in Jersey City, N.J.

After graduating from St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City, where he was an honors student, Mr. Healy enrolled at St. Peter's College, also in Jersey City, earning a bachelor's degree in 1955 in marketing.

That same year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to study for the priesthood.

In 1961, he earned a licentiate in philosophy from Fordham University, and for the next three years taught at the Ateneo de Manila and Padre Faura Graduate School in the Philippines, while conducting research for the Peace Corps.

He returned to Fordham, where he earned a master's degree in sociology and a later attended Woodstock College in Baltimore County, where he earned a master's degree in theology.

He worked as a counselor at Bon Secours Hospital and St. Francis Academy before being ordained in the Society of Jesus in 1967.

Mr. Healy then began teaching at the old Ralph Young Boys School in East Baltimore and at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, a community outreach center in Reservoir Hill.

"He was there in 1968 when Whitelock Street burned and did what he could to keep his neighborhood calm, safe and fed during that tense time," said a daughter, Michelle Healy Smoot of Bowie.

In the late 1960s, he also served as a member of the board of the Joseph House, a Christian community center that provided food, financial assistance and counseling to Baltimore's needy.

During this time, Mr. Healy met Melody Gordon, a community activist, and decided to leave the priesthood in 1971. The next year, he and Ms. Gordon married.

Before joining Loyola College in 1978, Mr. Healy taught at Bay College and also served as a member of the Jesuit Study Committee, a group of former Jesuit priests who worked with and advised the Maryland Provincial on social concerns.

Arriving at Loyola College in 1978, Mr. Healy began his 31-year career there as director of institutional research and assistant to the academic vice president.

During his tenure at the school, Mr. Healy held various roles in addition to teaching, including establishing the college's study abroad program and serving as associate academic dean and associate dean of undergraduate studies.

At his death, Mr. Healy, who had continued working until this month, was associate director of the office of international studies.

"He founded and developed Loyola's study abroad program with six students 30 years ago," Mrs. Smoot said. "Today, the program sends 550 junior-year students annually to 30 different programs, exchanges and affiliations in 23 countries."

"Throughout his career at Loyola, Joe continued exploring new ways to better serve our students in Baltimore and on almost every continent," said Andre Colombat, dean of international programs, in a statement.

"He always made sure we provided our students with top-quality education, included more service opportunities, sent students to less-traveled destinations and maintained the quality of our programs abroad."

Mr. Colombat said Mr. Healy was a "knowledgeable, humorous and captivating speaker," which, combined with a warm and outgoing personality, resulted in an extensive network of "business partners, supporters and friends for Loyola around the world."

The longtime Guilford Avenue resident liked sharing meals with family and friends and discussing the merits of certain wines and beers. He also enjoyed reading, writing and discussing religion and spirituality, family members said.

Mr. Healy, a world traveler, also liked introducing newcomers to the interesting places in his adopted Baltimore.

"He could also lose himself for hours in nearby museums," Mrs. Smoot said.

A Memorial Mass was offered Tuesday at Loyola's Alumni Memorial Chapel.

Also surviving are his wife of 37 years; a son, Steven Healy of Princeton, N.J.; another daughter, Candra Healy of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

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