The Congregation of the Mission Western Province mourns the loss of Rev. John. T. Richardson, C.M., who passed away on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, at the age of 98 after a lengthy illness. Born Dec. 20, 1922, and ordained in August 1949, Fr. Richardson served his long priestly ministry most notably as president of DePaul University in Chicago from 1981 to 1993.
During his time as president, he oversaw continuing institutional planning to promote the university’s distinct mission, overall academic quality, financial growth, student enrollment, and physical plant growth, most notably the purchase and complete renovation of the Goldblatt building, renamed the DePaul Center, which became the anchor of the downtown campus.
After three years as a moral theology and sociology instructor at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Fr. Richardson began his career at DePaul in 1954 as dean of the university’s graduate school. He went on to serve as executive vice president from 1960 to 1981 and dean of faculties from 1960 to 1980. As chief academic officer during this period, he played a key role in major academic developments at the university, including reorganizing some colleges and starting others, such as the schools of Education, New Learning, and Theatre); revamping university-wide required undergraduate curriculum; reshaping all basic faculty policies; and promoting greater unity and collaboration, among others.
“Fr. Richardson was a dedicated Vincentian, priest, educator, and missionary,” said Rev. Patrick McDevitt, provincial superior of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. “He was passionate about improving the lives of others and working for a more just and fair society.”
Fr. Richardson served on numerous boards and committees, ranging from the board of the Lincoln Park Zoo to chair of the archdiocesan committee to formulate policies governing labor contracts for all archdiocesan building and major rehabilitation projects. After leaving the post of president of the DePaul University, he continued as its chancellor from 1993 to 2018. From 1997 to 2010, he was an instructor and formator at Christ the King Seminary in Nyeri, Kenya, where he taught theology, social sciences, and English composition. He also raised the funds to build one of the seminary houses in Kenya.
He was a member of three general assemblies in the Congregation of the Mission and served two terms as a member of the Midwest Provincial Council.
“I have been blessed in having truly outstanding colleagues, women and men who, probably unknown to them, have shaped most of the success my apostolates may have had,” Fr. Richardson stated in 2008. “Only God knows how faithful my life has been to the vision and ideals of St. Vincent. Community living traceable to His inspiration and foresight has greatly enriched my style of life and work.”
On Monday, April 4, a reception of the remains was held at 5 p.m. at Apostle of Charity Residence, Mother of God Chapel in Perryville, Missouri. A wake and vigil service followed at 7 p.m. On April 5, a funeral Mass was celebrated at 10:30 a.m. at the Mother of God Chapel followed by the Rite of Committal in the Vincentian Community Cemetery.
A service honoring his life was held at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday, April 27, at St. Vincent de Paul Parish at 1010 W. Webster Ave. It is available for viewing online HERE.
Memorial donations may be made to benefit the work of the Congregation of the Mission by clicking HERE. Memorial gifts may be allocated for care of senior Vincentian priests and brothers, the Kenya mission, DePaul University, and more.
Fr. Richardson’s obituary is available HERE.
View an archived stream of his Mass of Resurrection, held April 5, 2022, at St. Mary of the Barrens, HERE.
Read the text of Fr. Patrick McDevitt’s homily at the April 27, 2022, memorial service in Chicago HERE.