Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
(202) 862-9893, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC - The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) mourns the passing of Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J., who died on January 4 after a recent illness. He was 88 years old.
Fr. Currie served as president of AJCU from 1997 to 2011. A revered leader in Jesuit higher education, he previously served as president of both Wheeling Jesuit University (1972-1982) and Xavier University (1982-1985); director of Georgetown University's Bicentennial celebration (1989); rector of the Jesuit community at Saint Joseph's University (1991-1997); and as a faculty member at Georgetown and Saint Joseph's.
A champion for social justice, Fr. Currie 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 individuals were killed), helped to inform the United States Congress on developments in the investigation of the murders, and brought greater awareness to the then-oppressive military regime in El Salvador.
Fr. 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 (SOA) in Ft. Benning, GA, 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, Fr. Currie oversaw the development of JesuitNET, the nation's first Jesuit distance education network; strengthened the Association's relationships with members of the U.S. Congress; created the Jesuit Leadership Seminar; and coordinated a joint response to Hurricane Katrina, that allowed students from Loyola University New Orleans to spend their fall 2005 semester at sister Jesuit institutions across the country.
After retiring from AJCU in 2011, Fr. Currie became executive director of Jesuit Commons, an initiative that grew from JesuitNET to provide online education to students in refugee camps. The program is now known as Jesuit Worldwide Learning, and grants diplomas and certificates accredited by two U.S. Jesuit institutions: Regis University and Creighton University.
AJCU's current president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., remarked on Fr. Currie's legacy. He said, “Charlie spotted the potential in people. He saw the good that you longed to do, but feared you couldn’t achieve. Then, he let you know he believed in you and was counting on you. Whether you were a politician, an office staff member, or a fellow Jesuit, Charlie’s confidence in you made all the difference.”
Fr. Currie was a beloved figure both within and outside the Jesuit network. He remained proud of his roots in Philadelphia, but thrived on the energy of Capitol Hill during his years in Washington, D.C. His tireless energy, keen sense of humor, legendary story-telling skills, and enormous heart will all be greatly missed. We invite friends to share their memories of Fr. Currie in the comments section beneath the photo gallery below. Among those who have offered public statements and tributes are Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA). Many news outlets and publications have also shared the news of Fr. Currie’s passing, including Inside Higher Ed, America, Catholic News Service, Ignatian Solidarity Network, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register and WKRC Cincinnati.
Tributes have also come in from Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Le Moyne College, Loyola University Maryland, Xavier University, the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain. John Carroll University also issued a statement on Fr. Currie's passing and will offer Mass in his honor on Sunday, January 13.
A wake was held at the Wolfington Jesuit Community at Georgetown University on Friday, January 11 from 3 - 5 PM and 7 - 9 PM (a Vigil Service was held during the second wake at 7:30 PM). A funeral was held on Saturday, January 12 at 10:30 AM at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., preceded by a viewing at 9:30 AM.