Baggarly, John D.Died
Fr. John D. Baggarly, SJ, accomplished scholar and teacher, died September 2, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, MI, at the age of 83. Fr. Baggarly is survived by his brother Charles Baggarly. “We constantly talk about the Jesuit commitment to the intellectual apostolate,” says Fr. Edward W. Schmidt, SJ, former provincial of the Chicago Province. “John embodied that commitment.”
A native of Chicago, he was born to Otis Cowles and Helen Catherine (nee Chambers) Baggarly on August 30, 1926. Fr. Baggarly attended St. Jerome Grammar School, Mundelein Cathedral High, and St. Michael’s Central High. Following high school in 1944, he attended Northwestern University for three short months before enrolling in the United States Army. In 1947, having served in the Army for two years, he returned to Northwestern. Two years later in 1949, Fr. Baggarly entered the Jesuit novitiate at Milford, OH. In 1954 he earned an AB in Philosophy and Letters from St. Louis University and in 1955 a Ph.L, also from St. Louis. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 1960, at West Baden College in Indiana. He went on to earn an S.T.L. from West Baden College in 1961 and an S.T.D. in 1974 from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
“He was a scholar’s scholar,” recalls Fr. Joseph A. Bracken, SJ, who new Fr. Baggarly from the novitiate. “Once he decided to pursue something, he would pursue it to the end. He believed that knowledge for its own sake was imminently worth pursuing.”
Fr. Baggarly’s principal appointments as a Jesuit include teaching at Saint Ignatius College Prep from 1955-1957 prior to his ordination, and then a year at the University of Chicago studying physics after his ordination in 1961. In 1962 he moved to Cleveland to complete his tertianship at St. Stanislaus, before leaving to study theology for four years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He returned to the States in 1967 for a short two-year position as a teacher of theology at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL. In 1969, he was assigned to return to the Gregorian in Rome, where for seven years he studied patristic and oriental theology, taught theology, and served as assistant editor of publications at the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
“The phrase ‘dedicated scholar’ describes John accurately,” remarks Fr. Thomas P. Kennealy, SJ, who met Fr. Baggarly in the novitiate. “The Church, the Society and the discipline of Patristic Theology are richer for his contributions. Beyond that, I remember John as a faithful religious and a devoted priest who loved the Society of Jesus and the Church.”
Fr. Baggarly came back to the States from Rome in 1976 and taught theology at Loyola University while preparing a critical edition of the Hexaemaron of Pseudo-Athanasius. This proved to be his life’s work.
“He was a good man,” says Fr. J. Michael McDermott, SJ, who knew Fr. Baggarly during his time at the Gregorian. “He was very loyal and devoted to the Pope, and to the constitutions of the Society of Jesus. He was very humble.”