Father Joseph E. Damhorst, SJ, died July 18 in St. Louis. He was 84 years old, a Jesuit for 65 years and a priest for 53 years.
A private memorial Mass will be celebrated Aug. 4.
Joseph Damhorst was born in Quincy, Illinois, on Nov. 9, 1936, to Clarence F. and Erma Meyers Damhorst. He entered the Jesuit novitiate of the former Missouri Province in Florissant on Aug. 17, 1955, and pronounced first vows on Aug. 22, 1957. He was ordained a priest on June 4, 1968, at the St. Louis Cathedral. He pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit on Aug. 15, 1973.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and letters and a master of divinity from Saint Louis University. He also earned a master’s degree in zoology from the University of South Dakota.
Father Damhorst’s first assignment following ordination was in vocation promotion, first in Florissant (1969-70) and then at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. (1970-75).
From 1975 to 1980, Father Damhorst was assigned to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City. For the last three years of this assignment, he served as pastor.
He then returned to St. Stephen’s Mission in Wyoming, where he had served while in formation more than a decade before. There, he devoted himself to mission work and served as superior and pastor from 1981-87.
Following a yearlong sabbatical at St. John’s College in Belize, he spent three years in St. Louis directing the province mission office.
In 1990, he was missioned to Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in South Dakota, where he did pastoral ministry at the Red Cloud Mission among the Lakota Sioux.
From 2002 to 2008, Father Damhorst was superior and pastoral minister at St. Patrick’s Church and then at Holy Apostles Church, both in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. He returned to Belize in 2008 and served for three years as pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish.
He then returned to St. Louis, serving as chaplain at Loyola Academy for two years before moving to the Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver. Here, Father Damhorst did pastoral ministry, a good portion of which was serving as the chaplain to the Kateri Catholic Community and on the board of trustees of Arrupe Jesuit High School.
Because of declining health, he returned to St. Louis this summer.
Father Damhorst donated his body to science.