(Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

In Memoriam: Rev. Joseph A. Appleyard, S.J.

The BC alumnus, faculty member, Jesuit rector, and inaugural vice president for University Mission and Ministry has died at age 92

Rev. Joseph A. Appleyard, S.J., who served Boston College for more than 40 years as a faculty member, rector of the Jesuit Community, and inaugural vice president for University Mission and Ministry, died on March 25. He was 92.

A wake for Fr. Appleyard will be held on April 8 at 8:45 a.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Campion Center in Weston; a funeral Mass will follow at 10 a.m.

A Boston College alumnus, Fr. Appleyard played key roles in the University during the course of his 43-year tenure as a professor, Honors Program director, Jesuit Community rector, and senior administrator. He left the University in 2010 to assume the post of the assistant to the provincial for the then New England Province of the Society of Jesus. Following his assignment in 2014, he continued to offer spiritual direction through the New England Province, and aided faculty and staff formation efforts at BC.

Fr. Appleyard joined the Boston College faculty as an assistant professor of English in 1967. He was promoted to associate professor in 1969, and to full professor in 1991. He served as the department chair from 1979-1982, and directed the College of Arts and Sciences’ Honors Program from 1987-1997.

From 1991 to 1997, Fr. Appleyard was the rector of BC’s Jesuit Community, responsible for the physical and spiritual well-being of one of the world’s largest communities of Jesuits. He also served as a member of Boston College’s Board of Trustees.

In 1998, he was named BC’s inaugural vice president for University Mission and Ministry. In that role, Fr. Appleyard directed resources and support for programs promoting the University’s mission, particularly its Catholic and Jesuit aspects, and in areas such as academic affairs, student affairs, human resources, and university relations.

During his long career at the Heights, Fr. Appleyard was highly regarded for his valuable contributions to the University’s intellectual framework, approach to student formation, and engagement of faculty and staff. Through a grant from the Lilly Foundation, he founded the Intersections Program in 2001, creating one of the University’s most popular and successful formation initiatives.

He is remembered by former colleagues for his intelligence, kindness, generosity and dedication to his faith and Jesuit vocation.

“Joe Appleyard was a warm and wonderful man who served the Boston College community in so many ways,” said Professor of Economics Joseph Quinn. “He was one of a number of very dedicated colleagues who helped put Boston College on national and international maps. “

"Joe Appleyard was a giant,” said James Erps, S.J., rector of St. Ignatius Parish and former director of Campus Ministry at Boston College.  “He was a significant figure for many years here at BC, but his influence reached far beyond the Heights. He was a leader in Jesuit higher education around the country and was one of the first Jesuits to develop the theoretical and practical framework for the Mission and Ministry office which is now so common in Jesuit schools. Joe was a great thinker, but he was also a doer! BC and Jesuit higher education owe him a great debt of gratitude."

Fr. Appleyard was the author of several publications, including the books Coleridge’s Philosophy of Literature: The Development of a Concept of Poetry 1791-1819 and Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood, as well as “The Languages We Use: Talking About Religious Experience in the University” and “Beyond the Thin Black Line: Models of Jesuit Presence in Colleges and Universities.”

He served as a trustee of Fairfield University, the University of Scranton, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

A native of Malden, Mass., Fr. Appleyard entered the Society of Jesus shortly after he graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1953. He also earned a doctorate in English from Harvard University (1964), and degrees in philosophy from Weston College (1958) and theology from the Canisianum in the Netherlands (1967). He was ordained a priest in 1966.

In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston College. In 2016, he celebrated the golden jubilee of his priesthood.

Fr. Appleyard is survived by his brothers William and Richard, his sister-in-law Elizabeth, and many nieces and nephews.