Jesuit Father John F. Kavanaugh, 71, died on Nov. 5 in St. Louis, where he was born and spent much of his teaching career as a professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University. Fr. Kavanaugh was also a longtime contributor at America magazine, author of the influential book “Following Christ in a Consumer Society,” and composer of several songs on the St. Louis Jesuits’ first album, “Neither Silver Nor Gold.”
Fr. Kavanaugh entered the Society of Jesus in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1971, in St. Louis. In 1975 Fr. Kavanaugh spent a year in India, where he worked with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity at The House of the Dying in Calcutta.
In 1976 Fr. Kavanaugh went to work in the philosophy department at Saint Louis University, where he would serve for the next 36 years. He established a reputation as an exceptional teacher, combining scholarly rigor with insights into human life. Highly regarded for his scholarship, Fr. Kavanaugh was awarded visiting professorships at Chishawasha Major Regional Seminary in Zimbabwe in 1987 and Creighton University in 1991.
Fr. Kavanaugh was also the founder of the Ethics Across the Curriculum program at Saint Louis University, which helps faculty to reflect critically on ethical issues and incorporate ethical considerations in their courses.
Jesuit Father J. Daniel Daly with the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus said, “Fr. Kavanaugh served the Society of Jesus in a variety of ways. A highly regarded teacher and spiritual director for generations of young Jesuits studying at Saint Louis University, Fr. Kavanaugh inspired and challenged his brother Jesuits to lives of simplicity and solidarity with the poor, both in his words and the example of his life.”
An exceptional preacher, Fr. Kavanaugh was frequently invited to give lectures on the topics of consumerism, American culture, advertising, faith and culture, and medical ethics.
Fr. Kavanaugh was a contributor to America magazine for more than forty years and had been a regular columnist since 1993. Visit the America magazine website to read some of the editors’ favorite columns by Fr. Kavanaugh.