Father George Morris, SJ, entered into God’s peace June 7 at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center Infirmary in Los Gatos, Calif. He was 78.
A quiet man of learning, Fr. Morris was nonetheless concerned for and ministered to people on the margins of society; he saw each person as an individual with unique gifts and talents and helped them overcome significant challenges in their personal and professional lives.
One of two children, George Orval Morris was born November 20, 1937, in Tacoma to Orval G. and Dorothy M. (Strong) Morris. He graduated from Bellarmine Preparatory, Tacoma, in 1955 and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sheridan, Ore., that same year. Following the regular course of Jesuit formation studies and teaching experiences, Fr. Morris was ordained a priest on June 8, 1968, in Spokane. During his training he earned degrees from Gonzaga University, Notre Dame University, Regis College (Toronto), and the Sorbonne (Paris).
Upon completion of his PhD, Fr. Morris began his assignment at Seattle University as professor of French from 1973-1978, and as director of student loans from 1978-1983. He returned to Gonzaga in 1987 as the coordinator of the bachelor of general studies, serving returning adult students until the program ended in 2009. In addition to his role in the School of Professional Studies, Fr. Morris was the chaplain for the theatre arts department for many years. He attended almost every rehearsal for both the theatre and dance groups to gather in prayer.
Even as Fr. Morris’ health began to decline, causing him to move to the Jesuit community in Los Gatos in November 2015, he remained connected to the theatre arts department – students would pass around a cell phone before every production to sustain the tradition of praying with Fr. Morris. He continued what he called his “Ministry of Presence” in California by phone, listening to students who wished to remain connected and receive guidance. Fr. Morris also facilitated reading groups with members of the staff who wanted to engage more deeply with the mission of Gonzaga and continue to cultivate their spirituality.
Fr. Morris was preceded in death by his parents and sister Catherine (Morris) Vance. He will be deeply missed by his many friends, former students, colleagues, and brother Jesuits of the Oregon Province.
A vigil service will be held Friday, June 24, at 7:00 pm in the Jesuit House Chapel, Gonzaga University, Spokane. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 am, Saturday, June 25, also at the Jesuit House Chapel. Inurnment will be at 1:30 pm, Saturday, June 25, at Mt. St. Michaels Cemetery. Memorials in honor of Fr. Morris may be sent to the Senior Jesuit Fund, Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, P.O. Box 86010, Portland, Ore., 97286 or through the Province’s secure online donation page.