With great sadness, we mourn the loss of our Jesuit brother…Father William R. Stoeger, S.J., died Monday, March 24, 2014, in Regis Infirmary at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 70 years old. Born in Torrance, California, on October 5, 1943, Father Stoeger entered the Society of Jesus at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos on September 7, 1961. He was ordained at St. Lawrence Church in Redondo Beach on June 16, 1972 by Cardinal Timothy Manning and pronounced final vows in Washington, D.C. on February 2, 1979. Father Stoeger was a long-time member of Brophy College Prep’s Board of Trustees.
A Life of Learning
Father Stoeger grew up in Redondo Beach, California. He completed his bachelor’s degree with honors in philosophy from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama in 1967. In 1969 he was awarded an M.S. in physics from UCLA. After lecturing briefly in the physics department at the University of San Francisco, he began theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California where he finished an S.T.M. and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972. Afterwards he pursued doctoral studies in astrophysics at Cambridge University, U.K., and completed his PhD in 1976. From 1976 – 1979 he was a research associate with the theoretical gravitational physics group at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. He joined the staff of the Vatican Observatory in September 1979.
A Physicist for Others
Father Stoeger’s research dealt with various problems connected with the physics of accretion onto black holes, and mathematical and physical issues connected with torsion and bi-metric theories of gravity, as well as the harmonic map structures contained in gravitational theories, including general relativity. More recently, he has been concentrating on observationally oriented projects in theoretical cosmology, attempting to build more adequate bridges between theory and cosmologically relevant astronomical observations. He also continues to pursue some research on the physics of the central engine in active galactic nuclei and quasars.
Beyond his research and writing in cosmology and astrophysics, Father Stoeger has been active in lecturing and teaching at the University of Arizona, at the University of San Francisco, and at Vatican Observatory Summer Schools. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society, and the Society for General Relativity and Gravitation. He is on the Board of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS), Secretary of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, and co-editor of the series “Philosophy in Science.” He also is an active participant in the Vatican/CTNS workshops on “God’s Action in the World: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action” and in the Science-Theology Consultation of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton.
Here he is in 2012 lecturing on Cosmology, Evolution, Causality and Creation at the Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Krakow, Poland.