We are saddened to share that Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J., went to the house of the Father at 1:00 PM, September 3rd, 2020. An alumnus of the University of Chicago, Fr. Paul joined our staff as a scholar-in-residence in 2012.

With the blessing of the Midwest Jesuit Province, the Lumen Christi Institute has created The Fr. Paul V. Mankowski, SJ Memorial Fund for Jesuit Scholarship.  TO LEARN MORE/DONATE

Over the years, he served our campus community and the wider Chicago area through courses, sacraments, and spiritual direction. Fr. Paul would regularly gather with students from the University for quarter long seminars on topics ranging from books of the Bible to the fiction and poetry of Catholic authors. He had an impact on countless students and laypersons. He was known for his dry sense of humor, tireless devotion to the care of souls, depth of intellect, and his broad humanist interests. 

He will be greatly missed. 

Please join us in prayer in gratitude for Fr. Mankowski’s life and service to the greater glory of God.


Thomas Levergood Tribute

On Sept. 2, I received a phone call from the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Des Plaines, Illinois, relaying the news that Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ, the Lumen Christi Institute scholar-in-residence, had been stricken and taken to the hospital. Fr. Paul gave them conferences regularly and heard their confessions. I relayed the report to Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, and Fr. Glenn Chun, SJ — the provincial and socius of the Midwest Jesuit Province respectively, they alerted Fr. Paul’s family. With email and social media, a call for prayers went out.

It was soon clear that Fr. Paul faced imminent death, so fellow Jesuits, friends, admirers — even some with whom Fr. Paul debated — prayed for a miracle or kept a prayerful vigil. For me, the realization that Fr. Paul was dying came with a strong kick of grief in the stomach. I knew I valued him as a colleague, and we joked with and teased each other. As is often the case, I hadn’t realized how deeply I loved him as a friend.

If Fr. Paul had not been an alumnus of the University of Chicago, I doubt we would have come to know each other, except perhaps at a conference somewhere or if he was staying at a Jesuit community where I was visiting. But Fr. Paul was an alumnus of the university and we shared an education and culture. As I began to hear of his reputation as a colorful figure in Catholic circles, I reached out to him. He soon visited the Lumen Christi Institute for conversation and stayed at the Woodlawn Jesuit Residence in Hyde Park.

He approached me later to ask whether he might have an official connection to the Institute so that he could be in Hyde Park during a year of sabbatical from the Biblicum in Rome. This would allow him to see his parents in South Bend, Indiana, frequently. I readily agreed and wrote a letter giving him status as a visiting scholar with few obligations (and no compensation). It was then we came to know each other. Though he often grimaced and shook his head at my failure to take some of his more outspoken positions, he understood that we had different vocations: his to provoke, mine to engage. And he was no doubt bemused by the fact that it was sometimes easier for us to be Catholic at his secular alma mater than it was for other scholars at various Jesuit institutions.

The difference between Fr. Paul and me was clear when we organized a symposium on “Dominus Iesus,” a declaration issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The document clarifies concepts concerning the relation of the Catholic Church to other Christian communities. To join Fr. Paul on a panel on the text, I had invited Fr. Franz Jozef van Beeck, SJ, a Dutch Jesuit, who was a member of our Board of Advisers. Besides organizing a lively, thoughtful event, I intended also to allow Fr. Paul to get to know van Beeck, then holding a top chair at Loyola University. The event and subsequent conversation over dinner succeeded according to my designs. Fr. “Joep” van Beeck said afterwards: “My that was a wonderful event. Fr. Mankowski is learned and thoughtful. He was nothing like the monster I’d been told I’d encounter.” Fr. Paul had a different view. He said something like, “It went well, but I was rather disappointed that there was not more disagreement, conflict, and pugilism.”

Later, when he was sent back to his home province for discernment about whether he would be allowed to take the fourth vow as a Jesuit, he had trouble finding an academic home at a Jesuit institution. Given the opportunity, we gladly created a position for him as scholar-in-residence at the Lumen Christi Institute (this time with compensation). Among his duties were teaching in our non-credit course for University of Chicago students, leading a Catholic great books seminar for lay Catholics downtown, and assisting Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., in editing his final book “A Godly Humanism.” Cardinal George — who had known Fr. Paul as a doctoral student at Harvard when they were both involved with the short-lived Cambridge Center for Faith and Culture — was delighted with Fr. Paul’s editing, saying, “I never knew I was so clear a writer.” Alas, just as Cardinal George left us too soon, Fr. Paul returned to the house of the Father far, far, far too soon.

- Thomas Levergood

Here are a list of other tributes to Fr. Mankowski:

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Cardinal George Pell

George Weigel

Phil Lawler

Rev. Jerry Pojorsky

Joseph Koterski, SJ

Kenneth Craycraft

Rod Dreher

Charles Huff

Coverage from Aleteia

Coverage from NWA Online

Midwest Province Jesuits Obituary




Woodlawn Jesuits
c/o Patrick Fairbanks, S.J.
1025 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607-4226

Mankowski Family
c/o Joan Mankowski, MD
11975 W. Ida Dr.
Littleton, CO 80127