The Church mourns Father Clarence Gallagher, SJ, who died yesterday in England.
My friendship with Father Clarence didn’t run long or deep as though who studied under him or sought him for spiritual counsel. But knowing him was a delight; he was helpful in some matters pertaining to me several years ago when he was just leaving the office of rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO), Rome (1990-95).
His mission in England and later in Rome was as being the formation director of Jesuits in formation and who also served as professor, spiritual father, Dean of Canon Law and Rector of the PIO. Moreover, he was also a judge in the canon law courts of the Second Instance of the Lazio dioceses. Father Clarence is remembered for his humor and availability in a Church facing many ecclesial changes in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s as he ably guided people of all ranks in the Church through the changes that came with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and later the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Church.
It is well known that in navigating the twists-and-turns of the Church’s new law, Father Clarence would organize a monthly working lunch where Pope John Paul and other concerned interested peoples could discuss matters of concern.
His book, Church Law and Church Order in Rome and Byzantium: a Comparative Study is a very reliable study for those interested in the Eastern and Western Churches.
As Rector of the PIO he was the founder of the Centro Aletti, an institute where Jesuits and collaborators bridged the perceived gap in faith and reason when it came to East and West perspectives in art, culture, Liturgy and the theology. The Centro Aletti was dedicated in 1993 by Pope John Paul as a way to show gratitude for all the work Father Clarence did with regard to the Christian East.
As a friend of mine wrote of Father Gallagher, “Clarence believed that a priest must be ‘disposable’ that is, available or accessible to those whom he served, and he lived out that conviction in his own ministry as priest, canonist, judge and teacher. He will be greatly missed, but he continues to work for the People of God through the thousands of students in every corner of the world who had the privilege of being mentored by him.”
In the last few years Father Clarence was living in a nursing home and before that at Campion Hall at Oxford University.
May Father Clarence Gallagher’s memory be eternal.