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Jesuit’s 99 birthdays: ‘a whole life of joy and gladness in the Lord’
by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register
(From the Dec. 6, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
Jesuit Father Francis Anthony Logan celebrated his 99th birthday Oct. 21 with a birthday party at Regis House on the Gonzaga University campus.
Father Logan is from Seattle, but he makes his home now in the Jesuit Infirmary at Jesuit House, also on the GU campus. His friends shared their memories of the priest at the party, a man who many call “Coach.”
For 83 of his 99 years, Father Logan has been a Jesuit. He joined the Society in 1919. He has been a priest 69 years, ordained in Louvain, Belgium in 1933.
He was born and raised in Seattle, and he recalled that when he was in the sixth grade, a priest asked him, “Did you ever think of becoming a priest?”
Father Logan said he kept thinking about it. “I even went to see the bishop.”
In 1916 he went to Seattle College High School and met the Jesuits there. “It was strange,” he said. “No Jesuit ever said a word about a vocation to the Jesuits.” He admired the Jesuit Scholastics and wanted to be like them. “It was like a blind date. But it turned out well.”
As Father Logan recalled it, St. Anthony of Padua may have had something to do with this call to the priesthood.
He said the saint was his favorite. “My mother told me that at one time she thought there might be no Francis, and prayed to St. Anthony that she wouldn’t lose me,” he said. “She gave me his name, and I think she made a promise to him that I would be a priest.”
His first career was as a teacher. He taught at Seattle Prep, where he had been a student. He also served as principal there for a couple of years after he was ordained.
He taught many different subjects at Seattle University, including French, Spanish, and Latin. He laughed to remember that when he was teaching Spanish, his students accused him of being “only two pages ahead of us” in the book. He came back at them with, “Well, that’s a good lead.”
Father Logan spent a year in France, as an immersion experience to learn the language. He called it one of the hardest years of his life. “It was during the time of DeGaulle and Americans were not very welcome.”
He retired from teaching in 1972 and then served in “about 20 different parishes, from Vancouver, Wash., to Bellingham. That was my second career,” Father Logan said.
Father Logan was very athletic – indeed, so was all his family – but it was by accident that he was tagged with the nickname “Coach.”
When he taught at Seattle Prep, someone took a photo of him coming from a work-out. The photo was published in the school’s yearbook, captioned “Coach,” and the name stuck.
He did coach, though, and taught many of the sports he loved. Baseball was one. He’s a Mariners’ fan and got to throw out the first pitch for one of their games when he was 96.
He played handball, which he said was his best sport. He and his partner won two Northwest championships and a place in the Washington Athletic Handball Hall of Fame. He bowled, too, and remembers a high game of 279, with 11 strikes and one spare. He also coached basketball, but only for junior classes.
But one of his true loves was the Hiyu Coolee Hiking Club. “Hiyu Coolee” is from the Native American Siwash language and means “much walking.” Father Logan founded the club, which had over 70 members.
Many marriages took place between club members. “It was a great way to get acquainted,” Father Logan said.
On one hike, a member found part of an Indian totem pole and that became the club’s symbol.
Father Logan also enjoyed traveling and volunteered to serve as a chaplain on cruise ships to Alaska and other ports of call. He also guided a couple of tours to Europe, once for two months with 18 graduates of Seattle College. “We toured nearly all of Europe on less than $5 a day,” he said.
Father Logan spends his days less energetically now, and uses a walker to get around. His health is good, he said, but his hearing and eyesight are nearly gone. With the help of Brother Adam, who fixes the altar, he says Mass in the infirmary’s chapel each weekday. “I say the same Mass and have it pretty well memorized,” he said. He listens to a “good music” radio station, and chats with the visitors who stop by.
Father Logan also carries on an extensive correspondence, assisted by friends who type and mail his monthly letters. Plus, “I have lots of time to pray,” he said. He especially enjoys sitting on the patio in the garden, praying his beads.
None of his siblings lived to be over 90. His mother was 93 when she died.
Father Logan said he perused a catalog of Jesuits and found a classmate in New Orleans, Jesuit Father Warren Miller, who is 100 years old. “We may well be the two oldest Jesuits in the country,” he said at his birthday party.
In looking back, Father Logan said there were two things he had never done: “I was never late for Mass and I never had a homily longer than 10 minutes.”
Advice for others? “Make use of the sacraments — Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Remember that worry doesn’t do any good, and try to keep cheerful.”
Father Logan follows his own advice. At his birthday party, he said, “If the Lord gives me one more year of life, my statistics will be 100 years old, 84 years a Jesuit, 70 years a priest, and a whole life of joy and gladness in the Lord.”
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