John P. Schlegel
Fr. John P. Schlegel, SJ
Whether at a university or parish, John's preaching helped people connect Scripture to current events and their own spiritual lives.
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John P. Schlegel

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John P. Schlegel, SJ, who died on November 15, 2015, in Omaha, Neb. He was 72 years old, a Jesuit for 52 years, and a priest for 42 years.  

John was born in Dubuque, Iowa on July 30, 1943, in Dubuque, Iowa. He attended St. Patrick’s Grade School, Loras Academy, Wahlert High School, and Loras College in Dubuque, before entering the Jesuit novitiate at St. Bonifacius in Minnesota in 1963. John completed his theology studies at Heythrop College in London and was ordained to the priesthood on June 22, 1973. He made tertianship in Melbourne, Australia, and professed final vows on April 22, 1982.

Having earned a master’s in political science during philosophy studies, John taught political science at Creighton University during his regency. After ordination, he began work on a Ph.D. in international politics at Oxford University in England.  He then returned to Creighton University to again teach political science and serve as assistant academic vice president from 1978-1982.  Later he worked as academic dean of Rockhurst College from 1982-1984 and dean of arts and sciences at Marquette University from 1984-1989. He then served as executive and academic vice president at John Carroll University from 1989-1991. In 1991 he became president of University of San Francisco, fulfilling this role for nine years, before being selected to serve as president of Creighton University from 2000-2011.  Following many years in academia, John served briefly as president and publisher of America magazine. In 2013 he returned to Milwaukee, where he engaged in pastoral work at Marquette University and Church of the Gesu. He served as Gesu's pastor from June 2014 until he stepped down for health reasons in October 2015. 

Throughout his life, diversity and inclusiveness were hallmarks of John’s ministry. He held in high regard his hiring of the first female vice president at Creighton University. Many will remember him for his outreach to students, faculty, and staff.  Rooted in his love and study of political science, he always engaged himself in civic affairs, the local arts community, and local politics, in particular. This manifested itself in strong partnerships between the universities he led and their local communities. Special Olympics of Nebraska recognized him with its Championship of Greatness Award in 2005. Over the years, the Boy Scouts of America bestowed upon him its Silver Beaver, Distinguished Eagle Scout, and Citizen of the Year Awards. John balanced his academic and administrative work and community involvement with a strong pastoral sense. Whether at a university or parish, his preaching helped people connect Scripture to current events and their own spiritual lives. He was grateful to spend the last months of his life working at a parish where he felt renewed in his priesthood.

Learn more about Fr. Schlegel in a Creighton University video and a special conversation with the Midwest Jesuits earlier this year.

Friday, November 20, 2015 
10:00 a.m. 
St. John's Church 
2500 California Plaza 
Omaha, NE 68178

Immediately following the funeral

Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee will have a memorial Mass. Visit Gesu's website for details.

In Memoriam
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November 20, 20157:10 AM
I knew Fr. Schlegel as president of Creighton in the Summer program in Christian Spirituality (2001-2003). But it was in Manresa, Spain in 2013 at the Ignatian Immersion Course that I came to know John as a friend and companion on the journey! From the Philippines I bid you farewell, John, and thank God for the grace and opportunity to meet you and experience your goodness. Rest peacefully in God's loving embrace. – Edith Ontiveros

November 26, 20154:23 PM
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed Father Schlagel's annual Thanksgiving letter published in the Omaha World Herald. It became our family tradition for me to read the letter aloud before the holiday meal. We have since moved from Omaha and were saddened to hear of his passing. We cherish the memories we have of Father Schlagel and wish peace and comfort to the many families, students, and parishioners who were blessed by his Godly wisdom. – Barnes Family

Creighton University Retreat Center
Located 45 miles east of Omaha, Neb., in rural Iowa, the Creighton University Retreat Center is situated on 154 wooded acres on the Nishnabotna River.