RIP Fr. Joseph W. Koterski - Sudden Death of Jesuit Catholic Priest and Renowned Philosopher from a Heart Attack


Fr. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., a longtime member of the philosophy department and master of Queen’s Court Residential College on the Rose Hill campus, died suddenly from a heart attack while directing a religious retreat in Connecticut on Aug. 9. He was 67.  He was also a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and it's past President for 6 years. 

Father Koterski was an Ohio native who grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in classical languages from Xavier University. He earned three advanced degrees—a master’s in philosophy, a doctor of philosophy, and a master of divinity—from Saint Louis University and the Weston School of Theology, now known as the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In 1984, he entered the Society of Jesus at age 30. Eight years later, he was ordained a priest. 

In 1992, Father Koterski joined Fordham’s philosophy department.

At the time of his death, Father Koterski served as associate professor of philosophy and editor in chief of International Philosophical Quarterly, a Fordham peer-reviewed philosophy journal.

Outside of Fordham, Father Koterski lived a rich academic life that spanned the U.S. and several continents. He traveled to California, Texas, Missouri, Hong Kong, England, and Guam to teach courses on subjects he cared deeply about. He regularly went to Haiti for missionary work, and he often worked with groups of nuns around New York, where he presided at Mass or led retreats. He served in leadership positions for many religious and academic organizations, including a two-term presidency of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. His sixty-page curriculum vitae is a testament to the hundreds of books, articles, homilies, lectures, and conferences that encompassed his life.

In a 2015 interview with America Magazine, a reporter asked Father Koterski what he wanted people to take away from his life and work. 

A greater love for God, a greater desire for union with Jesus Christ, a greater respect for the teachings of the church and a greater ability to reason in a sound way as a grateful response to God’s gift to us of the power of reasoning,” he said. 

Edited from