Fr. Joseph J. Smith, SJ
Fr. Joseph J. Smith, SJ was, hands down, one of my very best professors in Graduate Theology at the Loyola School of Theology. I never took "legendary" professors in college, mostly because I didn't care, but sitting in just one of Fr. Smith’s classes more than made up for that.
Most of the world would see the atone class I took under Fr. Smith as one of the most boring ever. I myself had to muster up herculean patience just to stay awake. But the rigor of his lessons was just the fire I needed to forge my mind in the discipline of Theology. His unparalleled erudition and scholarship, grounded in a selfless commitment to service, was something like “sheer brute force” inspiration for me. Whether it was writing top class academic articles or correcting student submissions, he truly embodied that word often abused and misused nowadays - the magis.
He was for me that toil that did not seek for rest, that labor which asked for no reward. He worked without fanfare, all in silence, in his humble corner cubicle in Ralph Gehring Library. There I saw what it meant to teach: I once consulted him regarding a particular theological question and expected only a short answer, not wanting to take away from his time. I emerged three hours later after having received a professional lecture complete with textual references from obscure journals and books. Such energy, such drive, can be had from only one source, and Fr. Smith never ceased to drink from that fountain of wisdom, for he was always a humble student of the grandest Teacher of all.
Fr. Smith was truly the wizard, the sage, tucked away in a back corner, a true hidden gem in the hills of Loyola. If I ever amount to anything in my career as a teacher of theology, I have much to thank him for it.