Gerhard, John J.Died
Jesuit Father John J. Gerhard, age 94, a Jesuit for 75 years, and priest for 63 years, died on July 18, 2012, at Murray-Weigel Hall, Bronx, NY. He was born on August 31, 1917, in Jersey City of James and Helen (Fleming) Gerhard. He attended Xavier High School, NY from 1931 to 1935, and after one year at St. John’s College, Brooklyn, he entered the Society of Jesus on September 14, 1936, at the Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville, PA. There he was affectionately called “Frat” (meaning “brother”) and this name remained with him.
Upon completing his novitiate and collegiate studies he proceeded to Woodstock College Woodstock MD for the study of philosophy. For his regency (1943-46) he taught freshmen and sophomores at his alma mater, Xavier High. The study of theology brought him back to Woodstock, MD (1946-50). He was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1949, at Woodstock College.
As a young priest, he served as a chaplain in the US Air Force from 1953 to 1957. He then began many years of teaching religion and Latin at Brooklyn Prep (1957-1972). Following a sabbatical year at Fordham University he taught at the Loyola School, NY, from 1973 to 1976. In that year he began teaching theology at St. John’s University. For a number of years, beginning in 1981 he engaged in doctoral studies in Scripture at the Catholic University of America, focusing on the Gospel of John. From 1982 to 2007 he resided at Mount Manresa Retreat House, Staten Island In his final three years there he was a teacher of Latin and a chaplain at St. Joseph Hill Academy (Staten Island).
A major goal of Fr. Gerhard was to bring the gospel of John to life through his studies, writing and preaching. This resulted in two publications. The Miraculous Parallelism of John (2006), a study of the literary structure of John, which identifies patterns and parallelisms in the Gospel. His second work, The Trail of Glory (2009) is a pictorial history of the public ministry of Jesus in the tradition of Ignatian contemplation on the life of Christ. This was done in collaboration with the artist Helen Owen, and presents 67 paintings based on the gospel of John.
In 2007 Fr. Gerhard was missioned to Loyola Hall, Bronx NY to continue his writing apostolate. In 2009 he was assigned to Murray-Weigel Hall, to pray for the church and the Society of Jesus, and he died there on 18 July, 2012. He is survived by his sister Brenda Gerhard. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the chapel of Murray-Weigel Hall on July 21, followed by burial at the Jesuit Cemetery, Auriesville, NY.