Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


the Inland Register

(From the July 1, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Alexander French McDonald SJ

Jesuit Father Alexander McDonald died May 29 in Spokane.

The vigil service was held June 3; the funeral Mass was celebrated the next day. Both took place at the Jesuit House chapel on the campus of Gonzaga University. Interment was at Mount St. Michael’s Jesuit Cemetery in Spokane.

He was born in Billings, Mont., on July 18, 1917, and raised in the small town of Meeteetse, Wyo. He was the eldest of the two sons of Angus James McDonald and Ann French McDonald. His primary and secondary schooling were in Missoula, and he graduated from Gonzaga High School in 1934. That same summer he entered the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus. He was ordained a priest in San Francisco on June 16, 1947 and pronounced his final vows in 1952 at Oxford, England.

English literature was an interest of his, particularly the epic poem Beowolf, which he had the opportunity to study at Oxford. Upon his return to the United States he taught English at both Seattle and Gonzaga universities, as well as at the Jesuit Formation House in Sheredan, Ore. As the 1950s drew to a close he was named Rector of the Jesuit Novitiate at Sheridan in 1958, and one year later was appointed the Provincial of the Oregon Province (1959-1964).

After his term as provincial was completed he returned to formation work, where he assisted Jesuits who were preparing to take final vows. In 1969 he moved to Seattle University, where he taught English and also worked as librarian in the new A.A. Lemieux Library. A press release by the school quoted Father McDonald as being “a slave to books,” a reference to his deep love of reading and respect for the written word.

After his 1988 retirement from Seattle University, Father McDonald continued to work in pastoral ministry in Seattle until moving to the Regis Community in Spokane in 2002, where he remained until his death.

Father McDonald is survived by his sister-in-law Merilee McDonald of Oklahoma City, Okla., and several cousins.

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