Friday, April 20, 2007

Father Herman J. Muller, S.J., 1909-2007.

Jesuit Father Herm Muller died yesterday at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan, a few days after his ninety-eighth birthday. A Jesuit for seventy-nine years and a priest for sixty-six, Father Muller spent nearly a half-century on the faculty of the University of Detroit and its successor institution, the University of Detroit Mercy. Arriving at U of D in 1956 to teach history, Father Muller remained at the university until late 2005, when declining health forced him to move to Colombiere.

Herm was sent to U of D at a time when Jesuits typically didn't learn of their next assignment until they saw it posted on the community bulletin board. In this way, Herm Muller learned that he would be teaching economics as well as history. Never mind the fact that Herm had never studied economics himself - in those days, Ours were often asked to teach in fields outside their area of specialization. Like many other Jesuits in similar straits, Herm managed to learn enough about economics in the short time between learning of his assignment and the beginning of the semester to start teaching the subject. He continued to teach history and economics for the next five decades.

Though he acquired emeritus status in 1978, Herm continued to teach well into his nineties. By the time I entered the novitiate, Herm had given up teaching but was still tutoring students. He also remained an active as a scholar, seeking to add to the books he had already written on Jesuit and university history. I recall speaking with Herm about a trip he was planning to make - at the age of ninety-five - to St. Louis to do research for a book he was writing on a 19th century American Jesuit. Until he moved to Colombiere, Herm also stayed active as a chaplain to UDM's athletic teams, even traveling to far-off away games.

As a novice, I was always impressed by Herm Muller's dedication and generosity. In his nineties he remained mentally agile and deeply engaged in the university community he had belonged to for the greater part of his life. Unfailingly charitable and generous toward his fellow Jesuits, Herm was always interested in meeting younger Jesuits and hearing about their activities and their dreams for the Society. Though I'll miss Herm, I'm confident that he continues to pray for the Church and the Society in heaven. As I pray for his repose, I pray also that his example will continue to inspire other Jesuits and the students he served so well. AMDG.


Post a Comment

<< Home