Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Msgr William Smith Dead at 69

The Archdiocese of New York has lost another giant.  Only two weeks ago they said good-bye to Father Richard John Neuhaus.  Today it was Msgr. William Smith.  Smith was a brilliant scholar, moral theologian and seminary professor (St. Joseph, Dunwoodie).  bio


A regular host on EWTN, Monsignor Smith was also a permanent fixture at Saint Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie.  His staunch orthodoxy annoyed a few ecclesiastical bureaucrats so he never moved up or fast on the church food chain, but to those of us who had the privilege of being his students and disciples, he was like an American version of Cardinal Ratzinger.  Dry wit, Smith was the quintecential faithful son of the Church.  Loyal to the Magisterium and obedient to the Roman Pontiff, he never diluted what he taught for the sake of political correctness.  Had he been rector of some of the more problematic seminaries in the USA, you can be sure he would have removed dissident theologians A.S.A.P. and there would not have been any immoral shanannigans going on in the wee hours of the night, either.  We could have used a cadre of Bill Smiths to reform and renew the seminaries across America and restore orthodox doctrine, reverent worship and moral probity.  I never had the honor of attending Dunwoodie as a seminarian but I did have Msgr. Smith as a guest professor for the annual seminarian seminar sponsored by Opus Dei at Arnold Hall every Easter week while I was in the seminary.  He also spoke on seversl occasions for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.  He, Fr. George Rutler and Fr. Ken Baker, SJ, were regulars when Fr. Bob Levis had our annual convocations for 19 years at Gannon University in Erie, PA.  If he had been bishop, that diocese would have been a pinnacle of wisdom and grace and many vocations would have come from it.  I had to telephone him on several consultations involving medical moral and bioethic problems and Msgr. Bill Smith cut through the fat and got right to the meat.  A modern day Aquinas when it came to moral theology.  He will be sadly missed on earth and richly rewarded in heaven.


Lourdes said...

Msgr. Smith was my moral theology professor at the Institute for Religious Studies at Dunwoodie. Like you said, he cut through the junk and clearly handed on the Church's moral teaching. I always wondered what would happen if he misplaced that 3 ring binder with his course notes. But, after thinking about it further, he could have taught the class with his eyes closed! Although, I think that notebook should be placed in the seminary's library among other treasured possessions! May he rest in peace. And may God help us to continue the good fight without the earthly presence of these great men.

p.s. - Father, it was so good to see you in person at the March for Life!

Anonymous said...

I will always fondly remember our beloved Msgr. Smith on this day - Holy Saturday. He mentioned on a couple of occasions that the second reading in today's Office of the Readings was one of his favorites. The way he described the Crucified Lord reaching out to Adam, "Awake, oh Sleeper" made me feel like I was there.
Msgr. Smith was academically brillant but, most of all, was deeply spiritual. I know he is still very much with us.

Jameson Dutro said...

Msgr Smith's teachings on Catholic Morality, & Catachism is a wonderful tool aired on EWTN that I recorded to my DVR, through my cable provider. I love him, and pray for him all the time, giving much Thanks that he has helped me to understand my faith in the Catholic Church. I use his teachings to gain more deeper understanding when I engage myself in the Catachism, to help better myself in knowledge of the Church that I love so much.

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