J. William Harmless
Fr. Bill Harmless, SJ
Bill epitomized the Society’s intellectual apostolate. He was a dynamic teacher and demanded much of himself and his students.
J. William Harmless

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Bill Harmless, SJ, who died on October 14, 2014. Bill died suddenly and unexpectedly while out for an evening walk. He was 61 years old, a Jesuit for 36 years, and a priest for 27 years. At his death, he was a member of the United States Central and Southern Province, applied to the Wisconsin Province.

Born on July 30, 1953, in Kansas City, Mo., Bill attended St. Peter’s Grade School and Rockhurst High School (Kansas City), and Rice University (Houston, Texas). Before entering the Society at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau in 1978, Bill volunteered with the Peace Corps in Mali and taught English in Houston. Bill studied philosophy at Loyola University New Orleans, and completed his theology studies at Weston Jesuit School of Theology. Bill was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1987, made tertianship in Los Gatos, Calif., and pronounced final vows on March 21, 2003.

During his regency, Bill served as the director for religious education at St. Joseph Church in Houston, Texas. After his ordination, Bill continued studies, earning a Ph.D. in religion and education from Boston College in 1990. From 1990 to 2003, Bill taught theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. While there, he held the Thomas E. Casetecker Chair. The college named him teacher of the year in 1994. In 2003, Bill was the Walter and Mary Tuohy Professor of Interreligious Studies at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, before Fr. Bill Harmless, SJmoving to Creighton University in Omaha, later that same year. Since 2003, Bill taught as a professor of historical theology and patristic studies at Creighton University. In 2010, Creighton’s College of Arts and Sciences recognized him as its scholar of the year. In 2013, he held the Visiting Chair of Theology at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Graff Endowed Faculty Chair in Catholic Theological Studies at Creighton University. Throughout his academic career — in publications, lectures, and teaching — Bill contributed much to scholarship on Saint Augustine and early monasticism. For this, he was internationally renowned in his field. Since 2009, he served on the Board of Directors of the Augustinian Heritage Institute at Villanova University.  

Bill epitomized the Society’s intellectual apostolate. He was a dynamic teacher and demanded much of himself and his students. The best students sought out Bill’s courses. He was a creative scholar, often seeing connections in ancient texts that others did not. J. William Harmless, S.J.Bill committed himself wholeheartedly not only to his research, publication, and teaching, but also to promoting the Jesuit identity of the universities where he worked, and to fostering faith in the lives of students. At Creighton, he was an articulate advocate for a liberal arts education; there, he authored the preamble for the university’s Magis Core Curriculum. Colleagues knew Bill for his strong and passionate positions, but also as someone who never let a difference of opinion affect what he thought of them as persons. A cold beer, some great tunes, and friendly conversation usually followed a good argument.  His fellow Jesuits greatly valued his presence among them.

Sunday, October 19, 2014
4 - 6 p.m.   
St. John’s Church 
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178

Sunday, October 19, 2014
6 p.m. 
St. John’s Church
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178

Monday, October 20, 2014  
10:30 a.m.
St. John’s Church 
Presider: Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, Creighton University president 
Homilist: Fr. Ron Mercier, SJ, provincial of the Central and Southern Province

Following Funeral Mass, Monday, October 20, 2014   
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
4912 Leavenworth Street
Omaha, NE 68106

Memorial Gifts     
Memorial gifts may be made to The Jesuits, 2050 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60614.   
To make an online contribution, please click here  

In Memoriam
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