Please join us in prayer for Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., who died on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
Kevin O’Rourke was born in Park Ridge, Illinois in 1927. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he studied at Notre Dame University for two years. IN 1947, he entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), making his solemn profession in 1951. He was ordained a priest in 1957.
His studies brought him a number of degrees and distinctions, including Licentiates in Philosophy from Aquinas Institute of Philosophy in River Forest, Illinois, and Sacred Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, and a Doctorate in Canon Law from St. Thomas University in Rome. He was also a Graduate Fellow in the University of Chicago’s School of Divinity. For distinction and dedication to writing and teaching, the Order of Preachers awarded him the Master of Sacred Theology in 1983.
Fr. O’Rourke served as both professor and administrator in Theology and Health Care Ethics. From 1964-1968, he was the Dean of Aquinas Institute of Theology, and from 1969-1972, served as Aquinas Institute’s second President. He was a professor of Health Care Ethics as Saint Louis University from 1979-2000, and most recently served as Professor of Bioethics in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago.
Fr. O’Rourke’s return to teaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology was interrupted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases. In the wake of these decisions, the Catholic Hospital Association in St. Louis recruited Fr. O’Rourke in 1973 as Director and later Vice-President of Medical-Moral Affairs, to provide leadership in Catholic health systems as the cultural and religious implications of legal abortion affected the way they provided care. From these positions, He went on to serve from 1979-1999 as Director of the Center for Health Care Ethics in the Health Sciences Center of Saint Louis University.
Fr. Kevin O’Rourke’s insight into the interplay of theology and social issues provided the Catholic health care community with a voice of leadership and compassion for human life. He will be missed by colleagues and friends at Aquinas Institute of Theology, in St. Louis, and throughout the Catholic health care community.
Visitation will be held at Saint Vincent Ferrer Church, 1530 Jackson Avenue, River Forest, Il. on Monday, April 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Vincent Ferrer.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Ashley-O’Rourke Faculty Chair Fund in Health Care Mission at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, c/o Dominican Friars, Province of St. Albert the Great, 2005 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60608. The purpose of the fund is “to promote teaching, Catholic Health Care and Ethics.”