William Barnaby Faherty, S.J., a professor emeritus of history at Saint Louis University, died Monday, Aug. 22. He was 96.
A Jesuit for nearly 80 years, Father Faherty was born in St. Louis, where he graduated from Saint Louis University High School.
Father Faherty entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., Sept. 1, 1931. After completing his undergraduate degree in medieval history at Saint Louis University in 1938, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1944, at St. Mary's College in Kansas. He returned to SLU and went on to complete his S.T.B. in social history in 1945 and Ph.D. in theology in 1949.
|William Barnaby Faherty, S.J.|
After teaching history at Regis College (now known as Regis University) from 1948 -1956, Father Faherty joined the SLU faculty in 1963 as an associate professor of history in the College of Arts and Sciences where he taught for more than 20 years, retiring in 1984. In 1995, the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Merit Award was named in his honor.
From 1956-1963 he served as a writer and pamphlet editor for the Queen's Work in St. Louis. Over the years, he wrote many articles for magazines, encyclopedias and historical quarterlies. He wrote several historical novels, including A Wall for San Sebastian (1962), which was the basis for the 1968 film Guns for San Sebastian starring Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson, and Wide River, Wide Land (1976).
He also wrote numerous histories, most especially of St. Louis and the Catholic Church. These include Better the Dream (a history of SLU); Dream by the River: Two Centuries of Saint Louis Catholicism, 1766-1967; Moon Port: Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations; Jesuit Roots in the Middle West; Henry Shaw: His Life and Legacies; St. Louis: A Concise History; American Catholic Heritage: Stories of Growth; and The St. Louis Irish: An Unmatched Celtic Community.
A well-known speaker, Father Faherty gave numerous talks for the Sacred Heart Program. He also regularly preached at the White House retreat center.
From 1980 to 2002, Father Faherty served as the curator of St. Stanislaus Museum on the site of the original Jesuit novitiate in Florissant. From 1984 to 2000, he was the archivist for the Missouri Province Archives and later the Midwest Jesuit Archives in St. Louis. He continued writing up until his death and served as archivist emeritus for the Jesuits of the Missouri Province.
Phillip Gavitt, Ph.D., chair of the history department, called Father Faherty one of their most notable colleagues.
"He was a man of astonishing literary productivity," Gavitt said. "
Gavitt also shared a memory from fellow history professor Mike Ruddy who said "Father Faherty was more than a member of the history department at Saint Louis University; he was part of its history. He researched and wrote about things that were important to him, including the University, the Catholic Church, and the Saint Louis region. His popular writing style attracted the attention of the general public, making him ambassador between the University and the Saint Louis community."
SLU archivist John Waide, who knew Father Faherty for nearly 40 years and worked with him on many projects, said his knowledge of history was incredible.
"He never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge of St. Louis and University history," Waide said. "I can honestly say that every time we had a conversation about an historical topic - and we had literally hundreds of them - I learned something new that I did not know before."
Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, at St. Francis Xavier College Church. A funeral Mass will follow at 7:30 p.m. Burial will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at Calvary Cemetery.