Obituary: Father John Allan Loftus, SJ, Jesuit psychologist, member of Clergy Support Team
Father John Allan Loftus, a Jesuit priest and a highly esteemed and trusted counselor of priests and religious, and especially so among clergy of the archdiocese, died at Campion Center in Weston on Oct. 24, 2022.
"Everyone called him JA." He was the last surviving of the four children of the late William and Clare (Allan) Loftus; in addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sisters Bernadette Albus, Mary Clare McCabe, and Katherine Pursel.
Born in Pittston, Penn., on March 13, 1947, he attended the parish grammar school and Scranton Prep in the Keystone State. Following high school graduation, he entered the novitiate of the then-Maryland province of the Society of Jesus at Wernersville, Penn.
His Jesuit formation continued at Fordham University, New York; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; and Woodstock College (it had moved from Maryland to New York). He was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 21, 1974, at Holy Trinity Church, Washington, DC.
Between 1975 and 1980, he studied psychology at Boston University, from which he received a Ph.D. in 1982.
From his 1975 ordination until his death, he served in a variety of ministries of the Jesuits, in the United States and Canada. He was a retreat master at Manresa-on-Severn, Annapolis, Md. (1975); he was a member of the staff of two centers for support and treatment of clergy and religious: House of Affirmation, Whitinsville, Mass. (1980-1986); and Southdown Institute, Holland Landing, Ontario, Canada (1986-1993).
After a sabbatical year at Boston College (1993-1994), he returned to Canada, as professor at University of St. Jerome, Waterloo, Ontario (1994-1998); he was named president of Regis College, Toronto, Ontario (1998-2003), the Jesuit theologate in Canada where he also continued to teach psychology.
On returning to the United States, he came back to the Boston area and enjoyed a sabbatical year at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Newton, and from 2004 to 2007, he was the director of the Jesuit Urban Center in Boston's South End.
At the JUC, he began his private psychological counseling practice, which continued to his death. It was here that he became associated with priests and religious of the area as a valued counselor, advisor, and advocate.
While maintaining his private practice, he was parochial vicar at St. Ignatius from 2008-2016. In 2016, the archdiocese made him a member of its Clergy Support Team as a special consultant.
At St. Ignatius, he was highly regarded by parishioners for his excellent, timely, well prepared, and insightful homilies. All of them usually wrapped up in the suggested time limit of fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis: seven to ten minutes.
His work with archdiocesan priests was especially appreciated, certainly by those who sought his counsel but also by those who knew of his work with their brother priests. If you heard that someone was "seeing JA," you knew he was in good hands. Oftentimes, he served as not only a counselor and confidant, but also as an advocate for priests who were in particularly difficult or stressful situations.
A couple years ago, Father Loftus fell and broke a hip and femur and he never really recovered his previous vigor. The last several months were especially difficult as fellow Jesuits saw his steady decline, including the loss of his eloquent voice: both as preacher and advocate. He will be greatly missed by the scores of friends he made over his life, by those for whom he was a sure support and guiding light, and by his brother Jesuits.
Father Loftus's -- JA's -- funeral Mass was celebrated on Oct. 29, 2022, at Holy Spirit Chapel, Weston. He was buried in the Jesuit Cemetery, Weston.