Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Philip R. Amidon, SJ, who died on May 13, 2020, at the Creighton University Jesuit community in Omaha. He was 76 years old. May he rest in peace.
Phil was born on August 22, 1943 in Chicago, and he was raised in Iowa. He entered the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1961, at Jesuit College in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. He was ordained on May 18,1974 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Iowa City, and took final vows on August 15, 1987 at St. John's Church in Omaha.
While in the Society, Phil earned a bachelor's degree (1967), a master's degree (1968), and a licentiate degree (1968) in philosophy from St. Louis University. He earned a doctorate in philosophy with a specialty in early Christian literature from Oxford University in 1979.
During regency, Phil taught English at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea (1968-1971). After doctoral studies, he returned to Sogang University to teach English and theology (1979-1981). In 1981, Phil was missioned to teach at Creighton University. From 1990-1993, Phil was missioned to serve the Society in internal governance. He moved to Rome and was the secretary to the USA regional assistant to Father General. Phil then returned to live and work at Creighton University (and St. John's Parish), where he remained until his death. At Creighton, Phil was a campus minister, a professor of theology, chaplain at the law school, and chaplain in Kiewit residence hall. While at Creighton, Phil published Philostorgius: Church History (2007) and Rufinus of Aquileia: History of the Church (2016). He also published numerous translations of early Christian literature, including Festal Letters, 1-12 (Fathers of the Church Patristic Series).
When Phil retired from Creighton University in 2017, he noted that "some of his fondest memories at Creighton were during his pastoral work at St. John's Church." As associate pastor, he continued serving the people of God at St. John's until his death.
Phil was a devoted Jesuit who was centered in Jesus and the Eucharist. Through his preaching, teaching, and, most importantly, his actions, Phil was able to help countless people realize God's love and care for them. He cultivated community wherever he was: among brother Jesuits, in a parish, or in the classroom. Everyone Phil encountered treasured his quiet and incisive wit and his unfailingly kind attention to all.
Phil was a gifted scholar. The late Fr. Bill Harmless, S.J. described Phil's published translations of Church Fathers from the Patristic era as "some of the finest translations available". Phil was a teacher who loved helping young men and women to learn. He stated: "Being able to encourage students, and let them know I'm there for them and to give them the time they need, that is what I enjoyed most as an educator."
St. John's Parish offered these words about Phil on its website:
We are heartbroken at the loss of a good friend, priest, Jesuit. Fr. Amidon gave of himself without reserve. Generous, kind, diligent and cheerful, Phil was always ready to say yes to any request, and accompanied many people in their time of need.
He was faithful in his celebration of the 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass, frequently sharing time with parishioners over the early coffee and donuts in lower St. John's after Mass. He loved sharing God's generous mercy in the sacrament of Reconciliation, and helping couples prepare for marriage. He shared celebrations of new life in baptisms, and accompanied many people through end-of-life loss. He helped to deepen faith in all of us. Phil will be profoundly missed, and remembered for his passionate dedication to ministry.
Phil donated his body to science.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
St. John's Catholic Church
NOTE: Only the Creighton University Jesuit community will be able to attend Phil's memorial service, but the service can be watched by visiting: www.stjohns-creighton.org.