Rev. William Barnaby Faherty, S.J., 96; beloved historian

Rev. William Barnaby Faherty 1915-2011

Rev. William Barnaby Faherty 1915-2011

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On Monday, Aug. 22, the Rev. William Barnaby Faherty, S.J., passed away at the Saint Louis University Hospital. Faherty had been admitted to the hospital days after reporting to Thomas Melancon, S.J., rector of the Fusz Pavilion, that he felt ill.

Rev. William Barnaby Faherty 1915-2011

A St. Louis native, Faherty joined the Society of Jesus after graduating from Saint Louis University High School (SLUH) in 1931. Faherty showed promise as a budding writer at SLUH, winning many writing contests by the age of 16.

Starting as a novice in Florissant, Mo., Faherty served nearly 80 years as a Jesuit. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1944.

In his life as a Jesuit, Faherty established himself as a prolific writer and scholar. Having written more than 50 books, Faherty had started his newest work just weeks before his death. Even after age 90, Faherty gave speeches on the subjects in his books and hosted a weekly radio program on theology and St. Louis history.

Among his many books, Faherty wrote mostly about theology and St. Louis history, including Celtic Catholicism in St. Louis. He also wrote historical novels, including “Daughter of Rising Moon” and “A Wall for San Sebastian,” which was made into a film in 1968 and starred Anthony Quinn. Faherty was invited to be a consultant on the set.

His writing covered more than the history of the Missouri Province, however. Faherty also wrote reports on space exploration for NASA and held an interest in astronomy throughout his life.  After the Second Vatican Council, Faherty wrote articles for magazines and encyclopedias about the effect of the Church’s documents on the American Catholic community.

After completing a doctorate in history from SLU in 1949, Faherty began his teaching career at Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver, Col. From 1963 to 1984, he served SLU as a professor of history.

For one of his missions, Faherty was appointed as the archivist for the Missouri Province. Faherty was known as a clear and engaging speaker. He gave many speeches for the Sacred Heart Program and contributed to several retreats at the Jesuit-run White House Retreat Center.

Faherty was known by his close friends as “Barb” or “Barby,” which was his mother’s maiden name. But he later chose to go by Barnaby, his middle name, after the toy doll “Barbie” became popular.

In his later years, Faherty was appointed to live in the Fusz Pavilion at Jesuit Hall and to pray for the Society of Jesus. He maintained an interest in the St. Louis Cardinals, his family heritage and the card game Kings in the Corner.  A visitation and a funeral Mass were held for Fr. Faherty in St. Francis Xavier Church on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Fr. Faherty was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery on Thursday morning.