Local Milwaukee priest and indefatigable bulwark of Catholic tradition Father Cletus Healy S.J. died earlier this week at the ripe age of 96. A Jesuit in the truest sense of the word, Father Healy worked, rather fought, on the cultural frontline for decades, relentlessly defending Catholic teaching when that teaching was coming into greater conflict with the demands of an increasingly secular and hostile society.From JS Online:
Requiescat in pace.
The Rev. Cletus Healy warned about the evils of communism, presided over annual vigils at the gravesite of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and wrote "Stations of the Cross for the Victims of Abortion."Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/obituaries/jesuit-priest-championed-conservative-catholic-values-in-era-of-change-b99243049z1-254742001.html#ixzz2ybBOBAfP
These were the passions of Healy, a Jesuit who — in an era of change that was troubling for some Catholics — emerged as a bastion of long-held conservative values.
"He was a voice of reason, of continuity — a connection with the Vatican that was often blurred, especially through the '60s and '70s, when things were in such turmoil," his friend Mary Lou Wirtz said of Healy, who died of congestive heart failure Monday at St. Camillus Jesuit Retirement Community in Wauwatosa. He was 96.
The second of eight children raised on a farm in Newton, Iowa, John Cletus Healy attended public schools and briefly studied agriculture before feeling the calling to the priesthood.
"He said he was chosen," Wirtz said. "He kind of ducked it, and then he realized he couldn't. He struggled leaving the farm. He loved the farm life."
Named after his father, he went by his middle name throughout his life. Healy entered St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., in 1938, and was ordained in 1951. He taught sociology and religion at Marquette University High School until 1968.
When many priests were becoming politically liberal in the 1960s, Healy often was a conservative voice.
"Father Healy was a voice for authentic Catholicism when there were liberals screaming 'New is best' on one side and conservatives yelling 'Only the old has value' on the other side," Wirtz said. "He always agreed with the Vatican, and he suffered persecution for standing with the church when many others were swayed away."
In the post-Vatican II era, Catholics who were troubled by changes in the church came to Healy. For instance, Wirtz met him at age 7, when her parents balked at the idea, a product of Vatican II, that she would receive her first Holy Communion without first going to confession.
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Also: Stations of the Cross For the Victims of Abortion, By Fr. Healy