Walter Abbott, SJ, R.I.P.

Walter M. Abbott, S.J., the New England province Jesuit and former associate editor of America, probably best known for his work in editing "The Documents of Vatican II," a book that for many years remained the standard compilation of the writings of the Council, died this morning. He had lived for several years at the New England Jesuit province infirmary, Campion Center, in Weston, Mass., just outside of Boston. There will be many encomia to Father Abbott over the next few days, probably focusing on his editing of his great work, which came out in record time after the Council, and who I knew well from his days living at the Jesuit novitiate in Boston. He was a kindly presence in the novitiate, who regaled the novices with tales (sometimes told several times!) of his days working at a frenetic pace with his magnum opus, his interactions with various church personages, and his time at America. But for now, here is a charming "Of Many Things" column written by our resident historian, Dennis Linehan, S.J., that tells the tale of some of Father Abbott’s most amusing memories. It appeared last year in the mag. Here’s an excerpt:
How had Father Abbott come to America, and how did he come to be sent to Rome? Talent and happenstance seem to be at the root of both stories. Walter was a student editor at Boston College High School, and he honed those writing skills through the long Jesuit course of studies. After a stint of teaching he was called to the staff by Thurston Davis, and did all that an editor does and more. During that time he published in America an article on ecumenism and the Bible. In Rome Cardinal Augustin Bea, S.J., read it, summarized it, put the topic on the agenda of the council and included the article among the preparatory material for the council’s document on divine revelation.
James Martin, S.J.
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10 years 10 months ago
When I heard the news of Fr. Abbott's death, I spent some quiet time remembering the years we spent in Rome and what an important part of our family Fr. Abbott had become. I called the children to tell them of Father's passing and each one had a special "Fr. Abbott story." We laughed and cried and agreed that Walter Abbott added an uncommon dimension to our years in Rome. He worked hard -- he was serious and yet enjoyed the antics of 4 young children. Our dear friend will be missed, but never forgotten. May he rest in the peace of the Lord he loved so well.
10 years 10 months ago
Father Walter M. Abbott, S.J. graced our hearts and home for over thirty years. In thanksgiving for healings of his eye and shoulder through the intercession of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, he promoted her cause and celebrated mass in Canada and in the USA in her honor. The Parker family had the joy of being at Auriesville, NY, with father on her feast day, July 14th, many times. My children Mary Beth, Jay, and Jane met Mohawk chief Cody Ironside there, and Jay decided to name his dog Cody in his honor. He hoped he would follow in his footsteps to be "big and strong." Thank you Fr. Abbott for being such a part of our journey! Betsy Parker
10 years 8 months ago
Like you Jim, I had many dinner conversations with Father Abbott at Arrupe House in Jamaica Plain, Mass., and I was shocked to hear of his passing. Whoever assigned him to the novitiate was a genius! A well-travelled, accomplished man sitting with "snot-nosed" novices. I believe he tolerated us much more than we did him! I have fond memories of this fine man and he shall be both remembered and missed. Thank you Jim for your comments and thanks to Google! I was able to find this out half way around the world. Peace. Bill Heran, PhD Paradise Recovery Honolulu, Hawaii
10 years 10 months ago
Father Abbott was a very special friend to our family for almost thirty years and will be sadly missed. At his funeral Mass yesterday at Campion Centre,Weston, my son Conor reminded me on how he and Fr. Abbott had a special bond. When five years old, I took Conor and my daughters to the annual Jesuit 'Fall Fair'. Conor found a small plastic toy gun at the rummage table. I told him "no, no guns in our house". However, when my back was turned Fr. Abbott went back and bought the little gun for Conor! He could appreciate what a five year old valued. They had been great buddies all these years since.And what a wonderful role model as priest and servant of God here on earth Fr.Abbott was to our family


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