The Catholic University of America

Feb. 22, 2011

University Mourns Passing of Philosophy Dean Kurt Pritzl

John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, issued the following statement upon learning of the passing of Rev. Kurt J. Pritzl, O.P. on Feb. 21. 

  Rev. Kurt J. Pritzl, O.P.

It saddens me greatly to report the death last night of a beloved member of our university community. Rev. Kurt J. Pritzl, O.P., Dean and Associate Professor of the School of Philosophy, passed away after a long illness.

Father Pritzl was born on February 15, 1952, in Milwaukee. He completed his primary and secondary education in the Milwaukee Catholic school system. He received a B.A. in philosophy and mathematics from Marquette University, graduating in 1974 summa cum laude.

Father Pritzl pursued graduate studies at the University of Toronto, focusing on ancient Greek philosophy. As a fellow of Massey College, he earned an M.A. in 1975 and a Ph.D. in 1982.

Father Pritzl joined Catholic University’s School of Philosophy in 1980. In 1986, after receiving tenure, he was granted a leave of absence so he could devote a year in Cincinnati as a novice with the Order of Preachers of the Province of Saint Joseph. In the fall of 1987 he returned to Washington and took up residence in the Dominican House of Studies. For the next several years he taught in the School of Philosophy on a part-time basis while he pursued theological studies in preparation for priestly ministry. In 1991 he was awarded an M.Div. in theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception. That same year, on May 31, he was ordained to the priesthood.

For two decades, leadership was the hallmark of Father Pritzl’s service to the University. From 1983 to 1985 he served as the Philosophy School’s Assistant Dean. He returned to those duties from 1992 to 1994 and 1995 to 1997. In 1997 he became Acting Dean and then Interim Dean of the School of Philosophy. In May 2000 he was appointed to a full term as Dean of the School. That appointment was twice renewed.

Despite his heavy administrative schedule Father Pritzl remained committed to his roles as teacher and scholar. He taught a course every semester; he continued to direct or read numerous dissertations and theses; and he continued to publish scholarly work in early Greek philosophy, and ancient accounts, especially Aristotle’s, of knowledge and of the soul.

In addition, he served as an associate editor of The Review of Metaphysics, a reader in Greek philosophy for several scholarly journals, a visiting scholar for the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, and a member of the Executive Council of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Father Pritzl was no less devoted to his religious community, which he also served with distinction.
He participated in the governance of the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph, serving as Regent of Studies, and as a member of Provincial Council, its Intellectual Life Commission, and its Vocation Council. He also served as a member of the Corporation and Board of Trustees of Providence College.

He was a chaplain in the Teams of Our Lady movement. His commitment to the pro-life movement led to his service as spiritual director at annual conferences of diocesan pro-life and natural family planning directors organized by the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of this distinguished scholar, faithful priest, and friend to so many members of The Catholic University of America community.

To follow are the funeral arrangements for Father Pritzl:

  • On Thursday, February, 24, Father Pritzl’s body will be received at 2 p.m. in the Chapel of the Dominican House of Studies.
  • Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead will be chanted at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel of the Dominican House.
  • Morning Prayer from the Office of the Dead will be chanted at 7 a.m. Friday, February 25, in the Chapel of the Dominican House.
  • The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday, February 25, in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

All of these events are open to members of the Catholic University community.


John Garvey


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