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Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Lawrence (Larry) A. Jonas, SJ, who died at St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wis., on June 5, 2015. He was 94 years old, a Jesuit for 65 years, and a priest for 55 years. Larry would have celebrated 56 years as a priest on June 16. May he rest in peace.
Born in Stevens Point, Wis., on March 5, 1921, Larry attended grade school and high school in his hometown before going on to serve in the military in World War II. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. in 1949 and entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo. on August 17, 1949. Larry had the usual Jesuit course of studies at St. Stanislaus, Saint Louis University, and St. Mary's College. He was ordained a priest on June 16, 1959, made tertianship in Decatur, Ill., and professed final vows on August 15, 1962.
Larry enjoyed a long life filled with good ministry as a Jesuit. After his tertianship, he served for seven years as a secondary school administrator at Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb. and Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D. He taught economics for three years at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee and worked at the Jesuit Mission Service in Minneapolis, Minn. for two years. In 1972, Larry became involved with the Better World Movement and gave retreats all over the country for the next four years. He spent a year at the Cardoner Retreat Center in Milwaukee, a year at the Emmaus House Ministry in Des Moines, Iowa, and five years on the staff of the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, Wis.
After many years of retreat ministry, Larry turned to parish work, serving in various diocesan parishes in South Dakota from 1986 to 2001 and at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee from 2001 to 2010. At the age of 89, he moved to the St. Camillus Jesuit Community but continued to assist at Gesu almost until his passing.
Larry was, at heart, a simple, straightforward man who wanted to serve God's people as a Jesuit priest. He succeeded in doing so with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. Though he made few headlines, that was not his goal. He was present wherever he was needed and was always happy to be of service.