Donald W. Reck, S.J.: 1933-2017

Donald W. Reck, S.J., died Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 in St. Louis. He was 83 years old.        

Donald W. Reck, S.J.
Donald W. Reck, S.J.

Reck was born on April 19, 1933 to William A. Reck and Clara Kadlez Reck in St. Louis.  

In 1951, Reck graduated from St. Louis University High School and  then spent a year at Saint Louis University.

A Jesuit for 64 years and a priest for 51 years, Reck entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 8, 1952 at St. Stanislaus Seminary, Florissant, Missouri. 

Reck returned to SLU where he studied philosophy, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1958, a master’s degree and a Licentiate of Philosophy in 1959.  He continued his studies, this time in theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, where he earned a licentiate of sacred theology in 1967.

On June 9, 1965, Reck was ordained at St. Mary’s. He pronounced his final vows on Dec. 8, 1975 at St. Francis Xavier College Church.

A consummate learner, Reck continued his education and in 1972, he earned a doctorate in sacred theology, specifically studying dogma/systematic theology at the University of Münster in Germany with the well-known Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner, S.J., as his director. His thesis made inquiry the theology of secularization.

When returned to SLU in 1972, Reck was asked to administer a two-year experimental program in pastoral education. Over the next few years, he became co-director of a summer program of pastoral renewal for diocesan clergy and director of the master of divinity program. He was also involved in planning and occasional teaching for the University’s corporate ministry program.

From 1976 to 1988, he served as co-director of the Institute of Religious Formation, where he oversaw the ongoing formation of priests, as well as men and women religious. This had a global impact, because the participants of the Institute were religious from all over the world.

Reck then served in SLU’s campus ministry until 1997. During this time, he also served as superior of his Jesuit community, 1988-1991. 

In 1997, he moved to the University’s Madrid campus where he served as campus minister and taught theology. In 2008, he joined the Ignatian Spirituality Program in Denver. This allowed him to continue his commitment to the formation of Jesuit colleagues and partners. In 2010, he returned to St. Louis because of increasing health concerns.

Paul Vita, Ph.D., director and academic dean of SLU Madrid, commented on Reck’s extensive service to the SLU Madrid community.

“Father Reck, a remarkable man and Jesuit, made vast contributions to SLU's community in Madrid,” Vita said. “He served as both a professor and the Campus Minister for over a decade. He was an outstanding teaching, a spiritual leader, and a true friend to students, faculty and staff. A model of humane service, his generosity and gentleness inspired us, as did his deep respect for others and openness to differences.” 

On the occasion of Reck’s 50th anniversary as a Jesuit, then Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach wrote, “Wherever you have gone, your brother Jesuits and those you teach and direct have come to know and respect a gentle and humble servant—prayerful, humble, steady and loyal.”

Reck is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his sister, Sr. Carleen Reck, S.S.N.D. of St. Louis.

Reck donated his body to the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The memorial Mass will be Saturday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. in the Jesuit Hall Community Chapel. Memorial gifts may be made to the Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus, 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or online at http://jesuitscentralsouthern.org.