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Ralph Houlihan, SJ

70 Years a Jesuit
Assistant to the president, St. Louis University High School


St. Louis native Fr. Ralph Houlihan, SJ, has spent most of his 70 years as a Jesuit in his hometown.  

He entered the Society of Jesus immediately following his graduation from St. Louis University High School in 1952. He then taught Latin at his alma mater as part of his formation process.  

After his priestly ordination in 1965 and the completion of his theology studies, he served for a year at St. Ignatius High School in Chicago before being assigned in 1969 to the then-brand-new De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis County, where he would serve for five years as both teacher and principal.  

In 1974, he began a five-year term as president of St. Louis University High School, after which he moved to Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, where he served as president from 1979 to 1995. 

He then returned to SLUH for a fourth time, this time to teach Latin and theology and serve as an assistant to the president, a service he continues to this day. 

Father Houlihan’s Reflection on 70 Years as a Jesuit:

As I reflect on seventy years of Jesuit life, including 57 as a priest, I am filled with gratitude to almighty God for the graces and gifts he has bestowed over the years. 

I am thankful for my wonderful parents, for their bounty of life and love and my five siblings and many cousins who showered me with enthusiastic support and encouragement during the years of training and preparation up to the present day. 

I appreciate the role the Society of Jesus played in helping me discover my own calling as a prospective Jesuit, then supporting me in my formative years, a time for a solid education intellectually and introducing me to Ignatian Spirituality, providing me with great Jesuit mentors, with friendly, sympathetic companions and strong apostolic communities in which to exercise our ministries.  

I am also in debt to the order for entrusting me with leadership opportunities in some of our Jesuit high schools and especially for the chance to work with competent Jesuit and extremely well-qualified lay colleagues on behalf of our loyal, talented pupils, concerned parents, generous alumni and knowledgeable trustees. 

I believe the Lord has granted his promised hundred-fold of grace-filled rewards to me in this life and pray that he will find me worthy of his eternal love in the world to come.  

God bless my family, the Society of Jesus, my Jesuit brothers, my lay co-educators, many respected parents, supportive alumni, helpful friends and outgoing, hard-working students for assisting in shaping my Jesuit life.