It is with profound sadness and a deep sense of gratitude for his life, that we share Father Don Senior, C.P., died on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, at the age of 82, after a brief illness.
Born on January 1, 1940, to Vincent and Margaret Senior, Father Don was the first baby born in the new year and the decade, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When Don was in junior high school, the family moved from Philadelphia to Louisville, Kentucky, where Vincent Senior found gainful employment. The family joined St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, which was staffed by Passionist priests from the adjacent Sacred Heart Monastery.
Inspired by the Passionist seminarians at Sacred Heart and St. Agnes led Don to join the Passionist Novitiate in 1960 in St. Paul, Kansas.
Upon completing formation, Don was ordained a priest on April 27, 1967.
In an interview with Joyce Duriga for the Chicago Catholic newspaper, Don stated that he wanted to serve as a Passionist missionary in Korea after ordination and asked permission to do so. According to Don, he received the following response from the Province Superior:
“He listened but then later said, ‘We decided we are going to send you for graduate studies in Scripture in Europe,’” Senior said. “I’ve thought of it since like an arranged marriage. You have one thing in mind but you don’t have the freedom to choose it. Somebody else chooses it for you. Then hopefully you fall in love with your spouse. That’s sort of what happened to me. The study of the Scriptures have sustained my life.”
Read the full interview in the Chicago Catholic.
A few years ago, Don shared some of his vocation story:
Father Don was very involved at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) for many years. CTU presented his bio as the following:
Rev. Donald Senior, C.P., is President Emeritus and Chancellor of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago (CTU), where he is also a member of the faculty as Professor of New Testament. Born in Philadelphia, he is a member of the Passionist Congregation and was ordained a priest in 1967. He received his doctorate in New Testament studies from the University of Louvain in Belgium in 1972, with advanced studies at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and Harvard University. He served as president of CTU for 23 years. He is a frequent lecturer and speaker throughout the United States and abroad, serves on numerous boards and commissions; and is actively involved in the interreligious dialogue, particularly with the Jewish and Muslim communities. Fr. Senior has published extensively on biblical topics, with numerous books and articles for both scholarly and popular audiences. He led numerous study tours of the Middle East
He was the recipient of the National Catholic Library Association’s 1994 Jerome Award for Outstanding Scholarship and the 1996 National Catholic Education Association’s Bishop Loras Lane Award for outstanding service to Catholic education. In 2013 he received the O’Connell-Douglas Award for his contribution to interreligious and ecumenical harmony, and the Gutenberg Award for biblical scholarship. In 2014 he was granted by the Governor of Illinois, the Order of Lincoln Award, the State’s highest honor for public service. He is past President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (1997-1998), of the Association of Theological Schools of the United States and Canada (2007-2009) and of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (2012-14). Beginning in 2001, he has served the last three Popes as the American representative on the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Source: Catholic Theological Union.
Fr. Don received several other awards over the years for his outstanding contributions to the life and work of the church.
- Father Don received The Bernardin Medal, given to a Chicago area Catholic who has made significant contributions to the life of the city and Church of Chicago, and who embodies the core values and ideals of Amate House: faith, service, community.
- The Union honored Father Don with the Sophia Award for excellence in theological scholarship contributing to the ministry of the Church. Fr. Senior's lecture following the award presentation was entitled: “Don’t Pull Up the Weeds (Matthew 13:29): Biblical Wisdom on Seeking Communion in the Midst of Division”.
- He received a Ministry Award from the Association of Chicago Priests (ACP) for his contributions, “to the life of the Church of Chicago.”
- Father Don received the “Blessed are the Peacemakers” award from (CTU), for his 23 years of dedicated and committed service as president of CTU. The award is presented to those “…whose accomplishments and commitments reflect the values of CTU’s, own mission, particularly in the areas of reconciliation, justice, and peacebuilding.”
- Father Don received the Order of Lincoln Award, “the highest honor for professional achievement and public service” presented by the state of Illinois. As stated in the press release by the state of Illinois, “President Emeritus Donald Senior, CP, was named in recognition of his contributions as, ‘...a world class theologian, for 23 years the President of the Catholic Theological Union, the nation's largest Roman Catholic graduate school of ministry.’ In the statement from the Governor's office, also mentioned were Fr. Senior's contributions as general editor of the Catholic Study Bible, editor-in-chief of the journal The Bible Today, and co-editor of the New Interpreters Study Bible.”
Father Don authored numerous books, articles, and other writings. Many of his books can be found here.
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Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward, Chicago says
Fr. Don Senior was my instructor back in 1986 when I was once a Franciscan friar. I remember him as a remarkable professor with such deep insight into the scriptures, and he had a profound impact on me. He will be missed!
Colleen Kennedy says
What a wonderful tribute to an extraordinary human. Thank you for sharing.