Father Thomas F. Gleeson, S.J., 78, died Nov. 7 at age 78 at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, Pa. He was a Jesuit for 56 years and a priest for 46 years.
Father Gleeson, son of John J. Gleeson and Geraldine A. Goddard, was born July 9, 1936 in Atchison, Kansas. Following his graduation from Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., in 1954 and Georgetown University in 1958, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, he entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville in 1958. After pronouncing his first vows in 1960, he studied philosophy for two years at Loyola Seminary, Shrub Oak, N.Y., from which he received a Licentiate in Philosophy degree in 1962.
From 1962 to 1965, Father Gleeson, as a Jesuit Scholastic, taught physics at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia before being sent to study theology from 1965 to 1968 at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., where he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Lawrence Sheehan, Archbishop of Baltimore, on June 15, 1968.
Father Gleeson completed his Tertianship at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in 1976 and made his final profession in the Society of Jesus at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, in 1977.
Following ordination, Father Gleeson attended Columbia University in New York from 1968 to 1970 where, having earned a Master of Arts degree in secondary school administration in 1967, he received a Doctor of Education degree in the philosophy of education in 1973.
He was then sent to St. Joseph’s Preparatory School as principal and teacher of religion, education and physics (1970-1974), which was followed by an assignment as dean and professor of education in the evening school (1974-1978) at St. Joseph’s University.
After a sabbatical year at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Father Gleeson went to the Maryland Province Curia in Baltimore as provincial assistant for higher education from 1979 to 1981. He then returned to St. Joseph’s University to serve as rector of the Jesuit Community and teacher in and Chair of the Department of Education until 1986 when he was assigned president of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, Calif., an office he held until 1995.
Father Gleeson was transferred in 1995 to Washington, D.C., as secretary for financial resources (1995-2003) and secretary for formation (1996-1997) at the Jesuit Conference and Superior at Leonard Neale House (1996-1999). He then became a retreat director at Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Md. (1999-2003) before returning to St. Joseph’s University for a year as assistant rector.
In 2004 Father Gleeson was appointed rector of the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, an office he held until 2009 when he was again assigned to St. Joseph’s University as minister of the Jesuit Community.
After returning to the Jesuit Center for a sabbatical year (2011-2012), he continued to serve there as associate for development (2012-2013) and community services (2013-2014) until his death.