Former Wheeling Jesuit University President the Rev. Charles Currie Dies at 88
A funeral Mass is planned Saturday in Washington, D.C., for the Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J., former Wheeling Jesuit University president, who died Friday. He was 88.
Currie served as president of Wheeling Jesuit for 10 years beginning in 1972. Currie also serviced as president of The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities from 1997-2011.
A revered leader in Jesuit higher education, he previously served as president of Xavier University from 1982-85; director of Georgetown University’s Bicentennial celebration in 1989; rector of the Jesuit community at St. Joseph’s University from 1991-97; and as a faculty member at Georgetown and St. Joseph’s.
According to the AJCU, Currie was “a champion for social justice. He played an integral role in coordinating Georgetown’s response to the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador. His trips to the University of Central America (where the eight people were killed) helped to inform the U.S. Congress on developments in the investigation of the murders, and brought greater awareness to the then-oppressive military regime in El Salvador.”
Currie’s work with El Salvador led him to co-found the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which brought student protesters to the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, where several of the murderers had received military training.
The Teach-In has grown in size and scope from its first gathering in 1996, and now draws nearly 2,000 students, faculty and staff from Jesuit colleges, high schools and parishes to Washington, D.C. every fall for advocacy training that honors the legacy of the martyrs in El Salvador.
During his time at AJCU, Currie oversaw the development of JesuitNET, the nation’s first Jesuit distance education network; strengthened the Association’s relationships with members of Congress; created the Jesuit Leadership Seminar; and coordinated a joint response to Hurricane Katrina.
After retiring from AJCU in 2011, Currie became executive director of Jesuit Commons, an initiative that grew from JesuitNET to provide online education to students in refugee camps.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement on the passing of Currie.
“Paul (Pelosi) and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Father Charles Currie. His spiritual guidance and faith were an inspiration to us and to the countless members of the Georgetown community and Jesuit university communities who were privileged to know him.
“For Father Currie, the words of Saint Francis were his North Star: ‘Preach the gospel. Sometimes use words.’ He lived his faith through action, working tirelessly to promote justice and human rights at home and around the world.”
A wake will be held from 3-5 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, with vigil service at 7:30 p.m. at the Wolfington Jesuit Community at Georgetown University. A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., preceded by a viewing at 9:30 a.m.