Father Joseph F. Downey
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
A Mass of Christian Burial for Jesuit Father Joseph F. Downey was celebrated Oct. 23 at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Mich. Father Downey, 94, died Oct. 20. He was a Jesuit for 75 years.
A native of Lima, Ohio, Father Downey entered the Jesuits at the Milford novitiate in 1935, following his freshman year at Xavier University. During the novitiate Father Downey taught at St. Xavier High School from 1942-44. He earned a master’s degree in English from Loyola University Chicago and completed his theological studies at West Baden College in Indiana. Father Downey was ordained on June 16, 1948, and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Loyola University.
For more than decade, Father Downey served in higher education as an administrator and a professor. He served as assistant dean of arts and sciences at the University of Detroit (now University of Detroit Mercy) from 1951-53, before joining the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., where he also served as registrar until 1958. That same year he was named dean of arts and sciences at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
In 1962 Fr. Downey was assigned as socius (executive assistant to the provincial) for the Detroit province of the Jesuits (now joined with the Chicago province). At the end of his tenure in 1969, Father Downey moved to New York City and used his gifts in a new way as editor of America Magazine, where he remained until 1973. He went on to serve as superior and director of Loyola of the Lakes Retreat House in Clinton, Ohio, from 1974 to 1985. For the next 20 years, Father Downey made his home in Chicago and put his talents to use at Loyola Press, first as associate editor, then as editorial director of Trade Books and finally as editorial consultant.
Father Downey moved to Colombiere Center in Clarkston in 2004. In the final years of his life he completed 10 books on spirituality, including Searching for the Christian End-Person: An Inside Story, When God Tells the Story Back to Us: Faith for the Senior Years, and The Spiritual Way: A Guide for Catholic Laypeople.
Father Downey is survived by a sister, Dorothy Mohier, and three bothers, Thomas, John and Bernard. Interment was in the Colombiere Center Cemetery.