What’s Wrong with the World

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R.I.P. Fr. Clarke (1915-2008)

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I just found out today that W. Norris Clarke, SJ died on June 10 of this year. Fr. Clarke was one of my professors at Fordham University, where I earned my PhD in philosophy in 1989. One of the philosophical giants of Thomistic philosophy in the 20th century, you can read more about Fr. Clarke here. Here is what I write about hin in Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009):

My professors included the great Thomist philosopher W. Norris Clarke, SJ, from whom I took courses on both Thomas Aquinas and Metaphysics. There were no assigned textbooks for those classes except Fr. Clarke’s mimeographed notes, of which I still have copies and occasionally consult. It was up to the students to acquire the writings of the works we covered, which meant that I spent an enormous amount of time combing Fordham’s library shelves. Fr. Clarke was an amazing teacher. He not only knew his subject well and how to communicate it effectively, he exuded a sense of Christian joy and contentment that set a wonderful example for young aspiring Christian philosophers.

Eternal rest grant unto them him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.
Amen.

Comments (2)

I think you made a key point about Father Clarke in this sentence: "He not only knew his subject well and how to communicate it effectively, he exuded a sense of Christian joy and contentment that set a wonderful example for young aspiring Christian philosophers." Father Clarke taught a great deal not simply through his work in the classroom but by the example of his life. I consider it a great grace and a blessing to have known him in his last years, and I still miss his gentle and joyful presence here at Fordham.

While I didn't agree with Fr Clarke's particular existential Thomism (or Lublin or whichever term best fit), I never failed to be impressed by those who had him as a teacher. They were unanimous in their praise of his Christian joy. And, I should add, even though I may have disagreed with his particular philosophical approach to Thomism, there's also no question that his focus on the individual led more than a few either back to Rome or to enter it for the first time.

May God grant him eternal rest in His Presence.

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