Statement from Marquette President Michael R. Lovell on the death of Rev. John Schlegel, S.J., pastor of the Church of the Gesu:
On behalf of Marquette University and our Jesuit community, we express our deep sorrow as we mourn the loss of Rev. John Schlegel, S.J., beloved pastor of the Church of the Gesu at the heart of our campus.
Since his diagnosis, Father Schlegel faced his illness courageously. Earlier this fall, I had the chance to sit beside Father Schlegel on a flight, and I witnessed a remarkable level of strength, grace and faith that defined his character. He set an example that we all could hope to follow in the time we have left here — whether that time is measured in days or decades.
The few possessions he had, Father Schlegel gave to his friends. He traveled as much as he could to spend time with friends in a series of “pre-wake parties,” as he referred to them. And, he even met Pope Francis.
Father Schlegel spent his life serving the church and fulfilling the Jesuit commitment to higher education. He spent 20 years as a university president, first at the University of San Francisco and then at Creighton University. He also was a leader on campus at Marquette earlier in his career, serving as dean of Marquette’s College of Arts and Sciences in the 1980s. He earned degrees from St. Louis University, the University of London and from Oxford. He loved cooking, opera and racquetball. It was later in life that he answered the call to become a pastor, faithfully serving the congregation at Gesu.
When he relinquished most of his duties as a pastor at Gesu in August, he wrote, “With this arrangement and fortified by your generous and powerful prayers, I can concentrate on the journey that is approaching; it is the most important spiritual journey of my life. I now believe I can enter into it with peace and freedom.”