Jesuit Father William J. McGrath died on July 9, 2015. He was born in Philadelphia on July 11, 1928, the son of Irish immigrant parents, William Joseph McGrath and Katherine Bridget Rudden. He was baptized into the Catholic faith at the Church of the Gesu on July 22, 1928, and attended St. Joseph’s Preparatory School from 1942 to 1946. After graduating from St. Joseph’s Prep, he entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 14, 1946, at St. Isaac Jogues Novitiate in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, where he made his first ascetical and literary studies from 1946 to 1950.
Woodstock College, Maryland, conferred on him an A.B. degree in 1952, and he completed his philosophy program at the newly opened Bellarmine College, Plattsburgh, New York, in 1953. The college awarded him an M.A. (teaching) degree in 1954. Fr. McGrath was assigned to teach English, mathematics and catechism at Georgetown Preparatory School, Garrett Park, Maryland, from 1953 until 1956. He then began theological studies at Woodstock College in 1956, and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Baltimore Archbishop Francis P. Keough on June 21, 1959. Woodstock awarded him a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology in 1960. He completed his studies in spirituality and ascetical theology at the Jesuit House at Auriesville in New York in 1960-1961, and made final profession in the Society of Jesus at St. Joseph’s Prep on Aug. 15, 1962.
Fr. McGrath was appointed to the faculty of the Bishop’s Latin School, Pittsburgh, where he taught Latin, English and religion from 1961 to 1973. He also served as minister of the Jesuit community there from 1961 to 1963. The years 1963-1968 also provided him an opportunity to study English literature at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University. From 1973 until 2009, Fr. McGrath was a distinguished and honored teacher of Latin at Scranton Preparatory School, Pennsylvania.
Health problems prompted Fr. McGrath’s move to the Manresa Hall health care facilities at the Loyola Center Jesuit Community in Merion Station. Here he continued his prayerful support of the church, his brother Jesuits and the many friends who came to visit him. He died peacefully on July 9. He is survived by his brothers, Joseph and James; and by numerous nephews and nieces.