Jesuit Father George L. Drury died on Sept. 27, 2016.
Born in Somerville, a suburb of Boston, on Aug. 23, 1922, Fr. Drury was the third child of George and Florence (O’Toole) Drury. He attended Somerville schools until his parents decided he could commute to Boston College High School in Boston’s South End. Very much influenced by the Jesuit scholastics he knew there, he applied to the Society and entered the Shadowbrook novitiate when he graduated, in 1939.
Two years later, he took vows and was in the juniorate when he and fellow scholastics were allowed to listen on the radio to President Roosevelt declare war in December 1941. During his philosophy studies, at Weston, he chose to study biology as a special discipline. Then he studied for a master’s degree in chemistry at Boston College during regency (1946-1949) and assisted in teaching biology lab courses. He returned to Weston to study theology and was ordained in 1952. After tertianship, at Pomfret, he was assigned to teach science courses to the philosophers at Weston. While at Weston he finished a master’s degree in biology at Boston College and began teaching biology courses there as well.
In 1964, Fr. Michael Walsh, SJ, the president of Boston College, who had been a mentor in his biology studies, asked Fr. Drury to become his executive assistant. The following year he took on the task of organizing a growing student-personnel staff, as BC rapidly evolved from a commuter school to a residential student body, eventually becoming BC’s first vice president for student affairs. A year later a new president asked him to take on the position of vice president for public relations. This took him further away from the classroom, students, and the challenges he saw students facing in the aftermath of Vatican II and the 60s, so he asked for permission to undertake a doctoral program in theology. He began studies at St. Paul’s University, in Ottawa, in 1969 and received the doctorate in 1974.
A directed 30-day experience of the Spiritual Exercises at Guelph, Ontario, in 1972, proved to be the seed of a different future. He was invited to return there on teams for subsequent retreats. That same year, he took up a position teaching at Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston and overseeing the program of spiritual direction for the seminarians. In 1975, the provincial asked him to become the first superior of the newly established Campion Center, a health-care facility for New England Jesuits—a position that required him to meet the state requirements for a licensed nursing-home administrator—and a retreat center for priests, religious, and lay people.
In 1980, he joined the retreat staff at Eastern Point, Gloucester. From that point on, spiritual direction, retreats, and teaching Ignatian spirituality became the focus of his life, at Gloucester (1980-1986), Campion Center (1986-1991), in Nairobi, Kenya (1991-1993), and Weston Jesuit School of Theology (1994-2009). In 2002 he moved to the Boston College community, which was more convenient for his ambulatory problems, but he maintained his teaching schedule at WJST and continued to direct retreats and see individuals for direction until 2012, when he moved to Campion Center.
In his last years, dementia slowly carried him into a world of his own but he was a regular participant at the daily community Eucharist and his large smile seldom failed him whenever anyone greeted him.