Father Norbert Jerome Rigali, SJ, retired professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of San Diego and other Catholic universities, entered into God’s peace October 4 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, Calif., after a long illness. He was 88 and had been a member of the Society of Jesus for 70 years, 58 of them as a priest.
Father Rigali was born December 29, 1928 in Glendale, Calif., the sixth of seven children of Henry A. Rigali and Frances White. He graduated from Loyola High School, Los Angeles, briefly attended Loyola University, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Los Gatos Feb. 10, 1947. Studies in classics and philosophy were made at Los Gatos and Spokane (Gonzaga BA, 1952, MA, 1953), theology in Innsbruck, Austria (Jesuitenkolleg, STL, 1960) and the University of Munich (PhD, philosophy, 1964). He was ordained a priest in Innsbruck July 26, 1959.
Father Rigali taught Latin at St. Ignatius High School, San Francisco (1953-54), and was an Instructor in philosophy at Loyola University, Los Angeles (1954-56). Upon completion of his studies, he taught philosophy at Mount St. Michael’s, Spokane, (assistant professor, 1964-65) and Loyola Marymount University (assistant professor, 1965-68). He then spent a year as a research associate at the Cambridge Center for Social Studies, Cambridge, Mass. (1968-69) before returning to the classroom.
He was visiting assistant professor of moral theology and religious studies at Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1970-71, and then taught at the University of San Diego, where he spent 37 years as professor of moral theology and religious studies (1972-2009). He was theologian in residence at Loyola Marymount University, 2010-11 and retired to a ministry of prayer at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos in 2011.
Father Rigali published widely in the fields of philosophy and moral theology. His works include a study (in German) on the thought of the German-Swiss philosopher and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers and many articles on Christian ethics in Theological Studies and in other professional journals and popular religious publications.
His colleagues esteemed his scholarly work in an ongoing methodical reconstruction of Catholic moral thinking in the post-Vatican II era, where he brought the tools and insights of philosophy to what he termed its “transformation from moral theology to theological ethics.”
He is survived by his brother, Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, of Knoxville, Tenn.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held October 31 at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, 300 College Avenue, Los Gatos, with burial at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, 490 Lincoln Street, Santa Clara.
Donations in memory of Fr. Rigali may be made Jesuits West, P.O. Box 68, Los Gatos, CA 95031, or through the Province's secure donation site at www.jesuitswest.org/donations online.