Legacy of late professor remains alive in all those he taught, says son

by Catholic News Service

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A funeral Mass was celebrated Saturday at St. Gertrude Church in Chicago for Richard "Dick" J. Westley, a retired professor of philosophy and theology, who died Feb. 9 at age 85.

Until his retirement in 2005, Westley taught philosophy for 45 years, first at Barat College in suburban Chicago and then at Loyola University Chicago, where he was on the faculty for 37 years. He also was a faculty member of the university's Institute of Pastoral Studies.

Considered a giant in the Chicago Catholic community, he was a book author and wrote numerous articles. He also led workshops and retreats around the country.

"Many thanks to everyone in the Loyola University community who came to my father's wake and funeral Mass," Richard P. Westley wrote Monday in a posting on the "Inside Loyola" page of the university's website.

"My father counted his time at Loyola, and especially summers teaching at the Institute of Pastoral Studies, as his true vocation. His legacy remains alive and vibrant through the thousands of undergraduate, graduate and pastoral students he taught," said Richard, who earned a degree from Loyola in 1976.

The elder Westley, born Nov. 9, 1928, finished his doctorate at the University of Toronto in 1954. From 1954 until 1968, he taught at the now-closed Barat College of the Sacred Heart in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest.

In 1968, Westley joined the faculty of Loyola University, where he was a professor of philosophy. As a faculty member of the Institute of Pastoral Studies, his work concerned a vision for the Catholic Church and its mission after the Second Vatican Council.

Author of nine books, he conducted workshops and retreats throughout the United States and lectured on religious and moral issues. He produced a monthly pastoral newsletter called "In the Meantime" for the Thomas More Association.

He also organized events at which Fr. Leo Mahon, a Chicago priest who had been a missionary in Panama, gave talks. While serving in the San Miguelito Mission in Panama, Mahon helped to develop base Christian communities associated with liberation theology.

Westley's books include Good Things Happen, published in 1992 by Twenty-Third Publications, which examines how a sense of community evolves in small groups and how it touches those who experience it; and Life, Death and Science, published in 1989 by Thomas More Press, which presents guidelines to key areas of Catholic thinking and teaching.

A number of his papers are preserved in the University of Notre Dame Archives, including handouts, programs, and related papers from the workshops and retreats he conducted, along with copies of his newsletter and records of the talks organized by Westley and given by Mahon.

Westley also compiled a collection of homilies by Fr. William Kenneally, pastor of St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago from 1984 to 2006. Called "Homilies of Faith," that collection is also in the archives at Notre Dame.

Besides son Richard, Westley is survived by two other sons, Thomas and Robert, daughters Clare and Ruth, and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ethel, and their son John.

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