Jesuit Father Matthew E. Creighton died on Nov. 23, 2018, at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Michigan. He was 91 years old.
Fr. Creighton was born on Feb. 8, 1927, in Chicago. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Chicago and entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 20, 1944, at Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio. He was ordained on June 19, 1957, at West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana. He took final vows on Feb. 2, 1962, at West Baden College.
While in the Society, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin and philosophy from Loyola University Chicago (1949). He earned licentiate degrees in philosophy (1951) and sacred theology (1958) from West Baden College. Fr. Creighton earned a master’s degree in Greek and Latin from Loyola University Chicago (1954). He studied classics at Harvard University (1959-1961) and earned his doctorate in Greek and Latin from Fordham University (1963-1966). During regency Fr. Creighton taught Greek and Latin at St. Ignatius High School in Chicago. While he was finishing his doctoral studies, he taught Greek and Latin at West Baden Springs.
After completing his studies, Fr. Creighton moved to Loyola University Chicago where he taught Greek and Latin (1967-1978). In addition to teaching, he also was the chairman of the classics department (1968-1972); associate dean of the graduate school (1970-1974); dean of the Rome Center (1974-1976); and director of university research services (1976-1978).
From 1978-1981, Fr. Creighton was the 21st president of Creighton University. According to the university’s website, Fr. Creighton was the “university’s ‘centennial president,’ taking office at the beginning of July 1978. Under Fr. Creighton, the endowment grew by $5 million, enrollment increased, faculty research was emphasized and the university became financially stable. In 1979, Creighton University and St. Joseph Hospital launched ‘Century II,’ a five-year development campaign designed to generate $70 million. With the university hitting record enrollment rates (5,420 students), the library facilities were no longer adequate, and other non-capital improvement projects such as faculty, financial aid and endowment were emphasized.” After Fr. Creighton finished his time as president of Creighton University, he was the director of national and international programs at the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (1981-1982).
In 1982, Fr. Creighton returned to Loyola University Chicago where was the executive assistant chancellor (1982-1986) and assistant vice president for development (1986-1987) before he resumed his beloved teaching of Greek and Latin (1987-2008). In addition to teaching, Fr. Creighton was also the chair of institutional review board (which reviews all research projects) from 1987-1993. Fr. Creighton had spent a total of 37 years at Loyola University when he moved to Colombiere Center in 2008 to care for his health.
Fr. Creighton was always a gracious man with a smile on his face. He had a deep love of Christ and was very serious about his faith. He loved teaching—especially teaching people Greek and Latin. He was dedicated to Jesuit education and continually promoted the Jesuit intellectual apostolate. He spent most of his time at the university but, during summers, he loved the pastoral interaction he was able to have when he substituted for vacationing pastors. Fr. Creighton loved movies and shared his love and knowledge of movies with others.
Beginning in the Juniorate and continuing throughout his life, Fr. Creighton delighted in showing current (and many classic) movies to his brother Jesuits. Early on in his Jesuit life, Fr. Creighton learned how to be a projectionist so that he could bring the joy of movie-watching to his Jesuit brothers at West Baden. As the “movie master” at the old “JR” (Jesuit Residence) at Loyola University, he was always in the forefront of bringing the community’s TV technology up-to-date, first with VHS, then DVD, then finally to the TiVo (digital recorder).
Fr. Creighton is survived by his brother, Fr. James J. Creighton, SJ, and his sister, Grace.