When Fr. Larkin arrived at the University as an associate professor in 1955, BC had few adequate arts-related facilities. But Fr. Larkin drew praise for the consistent quality, diversity and professionalism of the nearly 40 productions he supervised as director of the Boston College Dramatic Society.
Fr. Larkin also was credited with strengthening the academic offerings in theater, which was once a division of the Communications Department. The University began offering a theater major in the early 1970s and in 1993 established an independent theater department.
"Whatever success we've had here was built on his groundwork - and he built well," said Theater Department Chairman Assoc. Prof. Stuart Hecht. "Fr. Larkin loved to coax great performances out of his kids and he did it with such a sense of warmth and sharing. He literally practiced his priesthood in the rehearsal hall. I think that's his legacy."
When BC dedicated its Robsham Theatre in 1981, a room in the facility was named for Fr. Larkin.
"I remember how thrilled he was when the theater was opened," said Vice President and Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ. "Fr. Larkin was one of the key creative spirits behind our modern Theater Department."
A graduation award was named in his honor and is given annually to a senior member of the Boston College Dramatic Society who "has exhibited the qualities of dedication and integrity exemplified by the life and career of Rev. Joseph M. Larkin, SJ."
At the University Arts Festival in April, Fr. Larkin was given a citation from the Arts Council recognizing his contribution to the arts at Boston College.
Hecht said that the 2000-2001 Robsham Theater season will be dedicated in memory of Fr. Larkin.
A 1934 graduate of Medford High School, he attended BC for two years before entering the Jesuit novitiate in Lenox, Mass. He completed his seminary training at Weston College and was ordained in 1952. Fr. Larkin did his graduate work in theater at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
A funeral Mass for Fr. Larkin was held June 20 in St. Mary's Hall. He was buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at the Campion Center in Weston.
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