Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. George A. Lane, SJ, who died on November 12, 2023 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 89 years old. May he rest in peace.
George is survived by his brothers (Michael, Joseph, Martin, and Gregory) and his sister, Laura O’Brien. He is preceded in death by his sister Marjorie Bycraft.
George was born in Evanston, Illinois on July 29, 1934. He graduated from Loyola Academy and attended Loyola University Chicago for two years before entering the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus at Milford, Ohio on August 8, 1954. He was ordained a priest on June 8, 1967 at St. Joseph Church in Aurora, Illinois, and pronounced final vows at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, Illinois on February 2, 1974.
While in the Society, George earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Xavier University (1958), master’s degrees in English from Loyola University Chicago (1961) and theology from Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Illinois (1968). He also earned licentiate degrees in philosophy from West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana, and theology from Bellarmine School of Theology.
During regency, George taught English at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago (1961-1964). After ordination, he ministered at Loyola Press for almost 50 years. George held many positions at Loyola Press including: editorial director and associate director of the press (1969-1989); director, president, and publisher (1989-2014). George was superior of the Woodlawn Jesuit Community from 2003-2012. In 2015, George was missioned to Colombiere Center to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus.
George was very hard working and always focused on the mission at hand. He loved his work at Loyola Press and continued to stay current and engaged in all aspects of the work, having the vision to hire qualified, faith-filled people who, in time, came to take charge of the Press as Jesuit presence diminished. Loyola Press has thrived in a highly competitive environment because it is mission-driven from top to bottom, reflecting George’s vision for this great work. His great “touch” of making the rounds and greeting everyone at the Press each day is still remembered fondly.
George’s pastoral work in Chicago and, especially, at Holy Family was marked with a genuine care for the poor and for people living a very simple and modest life at the margins. George’s needs were minimal. He was a very caring superior at Woodlawn and lived his own vow of obedience fully.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, George coordinated the efforts that saved and helped renovate Holy Family Parish in Chicago, one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The raising of the money needed to save Holy Family became a “good news story” of Christmas 1990 in the news outlets and is referred to by many as the “miracle on Roosevelt Road“. Mr. John J. Chandler, president of Saint Ignatius College Prep, gives thanks for George’s long years of service as a Jesuit which began at 1076 W. Roosevelt Road. “His perseverance to save and restore Church of the Holy Family means that future generations of the SICP family will have an opportunity to worship in this historic sacred space.” Click here for more information.
Ms. Joellyn Cicciarelli, president of Loyola Press, has these memories of George:
Father Lane came to Loyola Press as a trade book editor in 1969. He learned every aspect of the business from the ground up, serving in a variety of roles until he became director of the work in 1989 with the retirement of Rev. Daniel Flaherty, SJ. Lane later transitioned to the role of publisher until his retirement at the end of 2014. Father Lane nurtured the growth of Loyola Press, overseeing the expansion of curriculum offerings, including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts, the first religious education program for children in grades K to 8 that utilizes Ignatian pedagogy for its approach; the creation of a new imprint, Wild Onion Books, which focused on Chicago history and architecture; and the launch of Loyola Press’s first New York Times Bestseller, The Gift of Peace by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Known for his abiding respect and care for the employees at Loyola Press, Father Lane will be remembered for his daily walkabouts during which he greeted each employee by name, thanked him or her for coming in, and followed up with one of the following quips, “Are we keeping you busy?”, “Bothering the workers again?”, or the staff favorite, “What a team!”