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In Memoriam

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Theodore C. Ross, SJ, who died on April 14, 2024 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 89 years old. May he rest in peace.

Ted is survived by his brother, Vincent Ross.

Ted was born on December 11, 1934 in Ridgway, Pennsylvania. Before entering the Society, he attended Xavier University for two years (1952-1954). He entered the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on August 8, 1954 at the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart in Milford, Ohio, and became a member of the Detroit Province when it was established in 1955. He was ordained a priest on June 14, 1967 at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan, and pronounced final vows on February 2, 1982 at Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. In 1995, Ted became a member of the Chicago Province.

While in the Society, Ted earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Xavier University (1958). He earned a licentiate in philosophy from West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana (1961) and a licentiate in theology from Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Illinois (1968). He also earned master’s degrees in history (1965) and theology (1968) from Loyola University Chicago.

During regency, Ted taught history at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio (1961-1962) and the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in Detroit, Michigan (1962-1964). After ordination Ted taught historical theology at many Theologates: Bellarmine School of Theology in North Aurora, Illinois (1969-1970); the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago, Illinois (1970-1981); Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois (1981-1998); Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois (1985-1998); and the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati, Ohio (1998-2013). In addition to teaching at the Theologates, Ted taught theology at Loyola University Chicago (1981-1990). In 2013, Ted was missioned to Colombiere Center to pray for the Church and the Society.

Ted was a devoted priest who loved the Society of Jesus. He was a natural and engaging entertainer who could hold one’s attention for hours. People gathered around Ted to listen to his stories and laugh at his jokes. Some might say he had a “sharp tongue”, but all would say that he was incredibly funny. He had an expansive understanding and appreciation for history — in particular Church history. Ted was a gifted teacher who combined captivating storytelling and memorable stories in his classes, lectures, and homilies. Ted’s pedagogical style tended to focus on the original texts and “teaching history through gossip” — with many jokes included. He encouraged students to seek out and read the original text, as opposed to writings about the text. He would use stories to get students interested in the topic and help them to remember historical facts. This teaching style helped his students engage Church history and it also gave the students a good laugh. An example is Ted’s 2008 lecture about the challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States which he titled it “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

Ted educated countless people — including Jesuit and diocesan priests — throughout his teaching career. Many clergy members in the Midwest — especially in the Archdioceses of Chicago and Cincinnati — got their understanding of Church history from Ted’s classes. These priests, in turn, educated a myriad of parishioners about Church history.

Ted loved the Society, and throughout his life he loved eating, talking, and spending time with Jesuit friends. His desire for community deepened with age and culminated in his move to Colombiere Center. Ted graciously accepted the limitations of growing older and was positive about his transition to the Colombiere Center health care community. In the 2017 Fall/Winter Jesuits magazine, Ted stated: “We don’t have a feeling that we’re coming to the end because we never come to the end as a Jesuit. We just keep going and working and praying. We are still Jesuits active in what we are doing — whatever that might be.”