June 30, 2023 – Father Edward F. Flaherty, SJ, died Sunday, June 25, 2023, at St. Ignatius Hall in Florissant, Missouri. He was 104 years old, a Jesuit for 63 years and a priest for 58 years. At his death, he was the oldest Jesuit in the global Society of Jesus.
His Jesuit brothers will commend him to his heavenly father at a Mass of Christian Burial in the Jesuit chapel at St. Ignatius Hall at Garden Villas North in Florissant, Missouri, at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 8. A visitation will precede the funeral in the same chapel at 9:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
The funeral Mass will be live streamed on You Tube. Search for “Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Ed Flaherty, SJ.”
Ed Flaherty was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on Oct. 3, 1918, to Edward and Mary Elizabeth (Marie) Best Flaherty. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Sister Rita Flaherty, CSJ, and his brother, Donald M. Flaherty, II. He is survived by five nieces and two nephews.
He attended Rockhurst High School, the Jesuit high school in Kansas City, graduating in 1936. He then attended Rockhurst College and earned a B.A. in English, Philosophy, and Latin in 1940. He then entered the armed forces during World War II and served for six years, mostly in the medical corps. (See a story about his delayed receipt of his military medals here.)
After leaving the Army, he worked in business for several years until a close friend and classmate’s decision to enter the Society of Jesus caused him to contemplate taking the step himself. He made inquiries in 1958 and was told to work on his Latin for a year and test his determination. The next year, at age 40, he entered the novitiate in Florissant, Missouri, on September 1, 1959. He pronounced first vows on September 2, 1961, and was ordained a priest on June 9, 1965, at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas. He pronounced final vows on November 6, 1971, at Regis College in Denver.
Father Flaherty began his apostolic ministry teaching Church History and the Old and New Testaments at Regis College in Denver 1968-72. In 1971, he also took on the role of an auxiliary chaplain at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, which he continued until 1994, and as a chaplain for the Knights of Columbus.
From 1972 until 1975, he taught sacramental and spiritual theology at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver and in 1972 also became Coordinator of Religious Activities at Regis College, which he continued until 1982.
In his spare time, he taught adult education in local parishes. From 1983 to 1987, he taught theology in the night school at Regis; after this, he continued his adult education work only in parishes and on the Air Force Base. From 1994 to 2015, he ministered at the Shrine of St. Anne in Arvada, and was the State Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, 1995-97.
In 2021, at the age of 102, he was finally missioned to the Jesuit senior community in St. Louis, but his health and energy did not really falter until recently.
There is some irony to the story that those in charge of vocations at the time of Fr. Flaherty’s entrance felt it necessary to test his determination; to anyone who knew him, that quality was never in doubt! He was firm in his faith and unwavering in his devotion — to the Lord, to his family, to his friends.
His first apostolic assignment to Regis College began a love affair of more than 50 years with Colorado, especially its mountains. His life of simplicity was reflected in the modest number of belongings that made the move to St. Louis after more than a century of living.
Father Flaherty earned a Ph. L. and an S.T.B. from Saint Louis University. He also earned a master’s degree in theology from the University of San Francisco.
We remember with gratitude all that God has done through his life of service to God and God’s people.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.