Rev. Francis R. Smith, S.J.
July 14, 1934 - March 25, 2021
Father Francis R. (Fran) Smith, S.J., retired professor of theology and religious studies at Santa Clara University, died March 25, 2021 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos. He was 86 years old. He had taught at Santa Clara for forty-four years and had recently celebrated his 60th anniversary as a Jesuit.
Francis Robert Smith was born in San Francisco July 14, 1934, the son of Francis Smith and and Claire Graham Smith. A graduate of St. Ignatius High School (1952) and Santa Clara University (1956), Father Smith joined the Army for a two-year period (1956-58), which included training in the Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. After separation from the Service, he attended the University of San Francisco Law School for a year before entering the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos, CA on September 7, 1960, to begin studies for the priesthood.
His Jesuit studies took him from Los Gatos to Gonzaga University, Spokane, for philosophy studies (MA), back to St. Ignatius Prep for two years of teaching Freshman Latin and coaching football (1965-67) and theology studies, first at Alma College, Los Gatos (1967-69) and the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley (1969-70). He was ordained a priest June 20, 1970 in St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco. The next year was spent as an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Santa Barbara, while finishing up his coursework at Berkeley. He then pursued graduate studies in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University, Rome (1971-74), earning a doctorate.
Father Smith began his long teaching tenure at Santa Clara University in 1974. The university would be his home for the next 44 years. He was an influential teacher, who taught a variety of theology and religious studies courses, which he continued after his retirement to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in 2018. He established the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries, which has trained lay church personnel for almost forty years. He served a term as Rector of the SCU Jesuit Community (1977-82). His published books include The God Question, a Catholic Approach and The World is Charged: The Transcendent With Us.
Father Smith is survived by his brother, Michael Smith (Adrienne), nieces Monica Wahler, Michelle Carroll, Maria Smith and Therese Courtermarsh, and nephew, Patrick Smith of San Jose, and nine grand-nieces and grand-nephews. A private funeral will be held at Santa Clara University in the near future.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Apr. 10 to Apr. 13, 2021.