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In Memoriam

December 28, 2023 – Father Richard D. Perl, SJ, died Dec. 22, 2023, at St. Ignatius Hall in Florissant, Missouri. He was 75 years old, a Jesuit for 57 years and a priest for 45 years.

His Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in the Jesuit chapel at St. Ignatius Hall at Garden Villas North in Florissant on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. A visitation will precede it beginning at 9:30 a.m. The Mass will be live-streamed and can be found at bit.ly/Fr-Perl-Mass or through a YouTube search for “Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Dick Perl, SJ.”

Dick Perl was born March 12, 1948, in St. Louis, the son of Oscar and Gloria Perl. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brothers, Terry and James Perl, and brother-in-law, Terry Rose. He is survived by his sister, Carolyn Rose, nieces Stephanie (Adam), Leslie (Brent), Kelly (Mike) and Alice (Michael) and nephew, Emmett (Cynthia); nine great-nieces and -nephews: Owen, Alex, Nora, Charlotte, Abby, Clara, Brady, Lennox and Perrin; an uncle, Allan Suellentrop, and many cousins.

After graduating from St. Louis University High School, he entered the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1966. He pronounced first vows on March 14, 1970, and was ordained a priest on June 17, 1978, at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. He professed final vows on Jan. 23, 1991, in El Progreso, Honduras.

His long-standing love of the people of Central America began with his first assignment following studies at St. Stanislaus Seminary and Fusz Memorial in St. Louis, which was to teach at St. John’s College in Belize City, Belize. He returned to Belize City following his ordination and served as associate pastor at St. Martin de Porres Parish until 1981, then at St. Ignatius Parish for another three years.

In 1985, he was missioned to do pastoral work in Honduras, first in Olanchito, then in Yoro. He remained in Honduras until 1995, when he returned to Belize City to serve as regional superior until 2001. Following a sabbatical, Fr. Perl was missioned to St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize, where he served as pastor until 2010.

Father Richard Perl, SJ, pastors the children of St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda, Belize.

Following another sabbatical, Fr. Perl ministered to the Latino immigrant community at St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, Missouri, until 2016. At that time he began his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, returning to his native St. Louis to care for his health and to take up a ministry of service and prayer at Jesuit Hall. He moved to St. Ignatius Hall with the rest of the Jesuit Hall community in 2023.

Fr. Perl’s fearless spirit of adventure could be traced to his earliest days as a Jesuit novice, when his novice director sent him on a ten-week pilgrimage to Mexico with nothing but a small backpack, $150, and a thumb for hitchhiking—much to the consternation of his mother. That adventure fueled his spirit for life: his love for every land and place in God’s amazing world; his openness to every person’s story, no matter how unexpected; his trust that God would take care of him in every circumstance. That trust would be tested during his long journey through Parkinson’s, but he faced it with the same relentless hope and laughing spirit that he exuded during his long missionary journeys in Belize and Honduras.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy at Saint Louis University and a Master of Divinity at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also received ministry training in Denver.

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 online through this site.