Here are some brief words by Jeremy Neill, followed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obit. Though I only spoke with him a few times, I join Jeremy and others in mourning his loss and commending his soul to the Father of Lights.
John Kavanaugh, S.J., a beloved mentor and philosophy professor at Saint Louis University, died this week in St. Louis. He was 71. To those of us in the Saint Louis Philosophy Department who knew him and were counseled by him, he was a teacher of deep skill and pedagogical sensitivity. Equally at home on the Catholic right and the Catholic left, Fr. Kavanaugh left a lasting legacy on a generation of Jesuits and philosophy graduate students at Saint Louis University. His compassion for the poor and underprivileged of this earth was matched only by his powerful support for the most underprivileged persons of all - the unborn. Not afraid to write for popular philosophical audiences, his columns and books reached a vast audience among Catholics in the United States and around the world. He will be deeply missed by his students and friends. May the God of Peace, who brought forth from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the Sheep, now carry Fr. Kavanaugh's soul to its eternal rest.
I have copied below Fr. Kavanaugh's obituary from the St. Louis city newspaper, the Post-Dispatch.
Rev. John Kavanaugh dies at 71; acclaimed philosopher and eloquent preacher at St. Louis University
The Rev. John Kavanaugh, who died this week at age 71, spent part of his year of prayer as a young Jesuit priest working in Calcutta for Mother Teresa. She took him to the House of the Dying, a former temple she had converted to a home for women and men found dying on the streets. Father Kavanaugh washed and fed those patients, most of whom would never leave the facility alive. He recalled how he and others had tried but failed to help a man who was close to death. But when Mother Teresa took the man's face in her hands, his eyes opened and she was able to engage him. She had a powerful ability to connect with the poor.
It was a transforming experience for the young Jesuit, Father Kavanaugh recalled later. He went on to become an acclaimed philosophy professor at St. Louis University and an eloquent preacher who delivered powerful homilies. He gained attention for his opposition to the death penalty and the war in Iraq. The Rev. John Francis Kavanaugh died Monday (Nov. 5, 2012) at St. Louis University Hospital. He had been on medical leave from the university while doctors tried to determine the cause of a mysterious blood disease he had come down with earlier this year, his order said Tuesday. Father Kavanaugh specialized in the study of ethics. He taught a course in medical ethics and founded the Ethics Across the Curriculum program at the university to help faculty members incorporate ethics into their own studies and courses. He wrote an ethics column for the Jesuit publication "America Magazine." Earlier this year, his column described how both political parties had become rigid and "driven by the rhetoric of extremists." He had voted for "the hope" promised by Barack Obama four years ago, he wrote. He was disgusted, he said, with those who he said had slandered Obama with outright lies. But he went on to condemn the president for his use of drone missiles "and the horror they bring to innocent people." He compared it to torture and rewriting the principles of a just war. He concluded by suggesting that he couldn't vote for either the Democrat nor the Republican and planned to write in a third candidate.
Father Kavanaugh was reared in St. Louis and was ordained a priest in 1971. He earned a degree in philosophy at St. Louis University and a doctorate at Washington University in 1974. The next year, he went to India for a year of tertianship -- prayer, reflection and service. He returned in 1976 to St. Louis University, where he spent the next 36 years. He became the spiritual guiding force for generations of young Jesuits. He wrote books and syndicated columns on consumerism, advertising, faith and culture. His most famous book, "Following Christ in a Consumer Society," was first published in 1981 and was reissued twice. In 2001, he opposed the death penalty for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh saying, "we will have become just a little more like him." Father Kavanaugh was a soccer player at St. Louis University High School and a handball fanatic. He played the guitar and performed traditional ballads with a half-dozen members of his family who traced their roots to the counties Galway, Kerry and Mayo in Ireland. Visitation will be 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Francis Xavier (College) Church at the university. The funeral Mass will follow at 7:30 p.m. Burial will be Saturday at Calvary Cemetery, with departure from the church at 8:15 a.m.
Among the survivors is a brother, Thomas Kavanaugh of St. Louis.