A memorial Mass for Jesuit Father Wilfred L. (Bill) LaCroix was held Jan. 2 in the Fusz Pavilion Chapel at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis. Father LaCroix died Dec. 22 at the Jesuit elder care community after a long illness. He was 83 years old, a Jesuit for 57 years and a priest for 47 years.
Father LaCroix was born Nov. 27, 1933, in Kansas City, Mo. He graduated in 1955 from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a bachelor's in radio journalism and English. He then joined the U.S. Navy and served four years on ships patrolling the seas around Japan and the Philippines.
On Sept. 1, 1959, he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant. He earned a master's in philosophy from St. Louis University in 1965, and later earned a licentiate in sacred theology along with a master's degree in dogmatic/systematic theology, also at SLU. He did additional studies in philosophy at the University of Toronto.
He was ordained a Jesuit priest on May 31, 1969, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Mo. He pronounced final vows 1979 at Rockhurst College in Kansas City.
Father LaCroix's primary ministry was in the Philosophy Department at Rockhurst University, where he served for almost 40 years, starting in 1971. He rose from instructor to professor to chair of the department, a position he held for more than 20 years. He was named teacher of the year at Rockhurst in 1998; he also received the governor's award for teaching excellence in 2002. He published several books and many articles in his field of ethics. He had a special interest in the questions of war and peace and of political and social justice, and always saw his work in philosophy as an extension of his work on justice. He sometimes told people that he taught ethics and justice rather than philosophy.
Since February 2011, his mission has been praying for the Church and the Jesuit community, as a resident of Fusz Pavilion in St. Louis. He is survived by an aunt, Rita Gilles.
He donated his body to the St. Louis University School of Medicine.