Jesuit Father Tennant C. (Tenny) Wright, longtime professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, died June 17, 2015, at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 87 years old. He was born in Los Angeles on September 16, 1927, the son of Tennant C. Wright, Sr., a film director and Warner Brothers executive, and Marion McMahon Wright.
Fr. Wright graduated from Loyola High School of Los Angeles, and after earning his BA in English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos in 1950. He earned further degrees in English at Gonzaga University, theology at Santa Clara, and pursued graduate studies in religious studies at the University of Chicago. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1962.
His 58-year association with Santa Clara University began as an instructor in English. After ordination, he returned to Santa Clara as teacher of theology from 1964-1967 and senior lecturer of religious studies from 1969-2008. For many years he also taught religious studies part-time at St. John’s College in Belize and attended to pastoral ministry there. Following his formal retirement, Fr. Wright continued to teach and keep active in ministry until failing health brought him to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in 2014.
Fr. Wright’s concern with social justice issues resulted in correspondence with presidents, prime ministers, members of Congress and activists. His interest in literature resulted in a long-time correspondence with Graham Greene. He also taught for a brief time in Xiamen, China, studied Zen Buddhism in Japan, and served the Diocese of San Jose in his ministry to incarcerated youth and their families. He also published articles and op-ed pieces in a number of newspapers and periodicals on a variety of religious and social subjects.