Jesuit Father Kenneth G. Loftus died on Sept. 18, 2017, at Campion Center, Weston, Massachusetts.
Fr. Loftus was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Feb. 14, 1951, and baptized in St. Ignatius Loyola Church, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he would spend the final years of his Jesuit ministry. He was the oldest of ten children of Kenneth and Joanne (Murphy) Loftus.
When Fr. Loftus was a young boy the family moved several times because of his father’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps and for New England Tel. & Tel., settling finally in Holden, in the hills of central Massachusetts, north of Worcester, when Fr. Loftus was 14. He graduated from Wachusett Regional High School there. His college experience reflected something of the turbulence of the 70s: he attended Middlebury College on a football scholarship, but dropped out after a semester; he did the same at the College of the Holy Cross; and, in 1978, graduated from Worcester State College. Then, for four years he worked at a number of different jobs.
He entered the novitiate of the New England Province, St. Andrew House, in Boston, in 1982, and took first vows in 1984. That same year, he went to Loyola University Chicago for a year of philosophy studies. From 1985 to 1987, he was an assistant editor on the staff of America magazine in New York City. He did theology studies in Berkeley, from 1987 to 1991, where he earned an M.Div. degree, and was ordained a priest at the College of the Holy Cross, in 1991.
He spent a year directing retreats at Campion Renewal Center, in Weston, Massachusetts, and then, in 1992-1993, did the year-long program in spiritual direction at the Center for Religious Development, in Cambridge. Jesuits who knew him well said he was a gifted spiritual director. From 1993 to 1995, he was assistant director of novices and minister of the novitiate community at Arrupe House, in Jamaica Plain. In 1995, he moved to the University of Scranton, where he was a campus minister and student counselor, until 1999. In that year, he joined the staff of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, in Chestnut Hill, where for three years he served both on the parish staff and as assistant director of novices. Thereafter, his work was entirely at St. Ignatius, where he was a much sought out spiritual director and pastoral counselor.
In 2012, he moved to Campion Center, where he continued to direct retreats and offer spiritual direction as a member of the Renewal Center staff. He was a low-key but witty presence in the community, helping with community jobs and always ready to put his knowledge of electronics at the disposal of less handy Jesuits. In the spring of 2017, respiratory problems led him to move into the Health Center. Doctors diagnosed ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in August he moved to a skilled-nursing floor. He grew increasingly weaker but was fully engaged with visitors who were struck by how absorbed he was in God’s presence. He died unexpectedly in the early afternoon of Sept. 18, 2017.