A Last Goodbye to Paul Locatelli, S.J.

“And what does the Lord require of you? Only to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

A Last Goodbye to Paul Locatelli, S.J.

As Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60 had done so many times in life, so it was on the occasion of his funeral Mass on July 16: He brought together thousands of people through love and respect and a sense of shared commitment to Santa Clara University and its greater mission. “All of you here, and many others, have supported Paul’s vision of educating young women and men to be people of competence, conscience, and compassion,” Santa Clara President Michael Engh, S.J., told those gathered.

For more than 50 years, Paul Locatelli called Santa Clara home: as student, as professor, as assistant dean of the business school, as academic vice president, as president for two decades, and, most recent, as chancellor. Fr. Engh observed, “The Santa Clara of today is the result of Paul’s vision and guidance. And all that has been accomplished in realizing that vision would not have been possible without you, without your efforts, your support, and your generosity.” Indeed, as Fr. Locatelli knew, working for the greater glory of God is a shared endeavor.

Two years ago, the pages of this magazine explored how the University was transformed under Fr. Locatelli’s leadership; the changes were tremendous. At the time, Fr. Locatelli had recently taken on additional responsibilities as Secretary for Higher Education for the Society of Jesus.

Rather than recount those accomplishments again, in the words that follow we bring you more personal reflections on the person, the priest, and the president. He was a man of boundless energy, just embarking on a new, global effort leveraging the international network of Jesuit institutions of higher learning. But he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May, and he died on the morning of July 12. That Friday, we gathered for his funeral Mass in the Mission Gardens.

As the ceremony commenced, the palm fronds rustled in the evening breeze, and a waxing moon was setting in the sky beyond Varsi Hall. Mourners in the Mission Gardens heard words of love and loss and respect. Among the 2,500 in attendance were many alumni and friends and faculty and staff. Fr. Locatelli’s predecessor as Santa Clara President, William Rewak, S.J., traveled up from Los Angeles. Bishops Patrick McGrath of San Jose and Richard Garcia of Monterey were there, as was John P. McGarry, California Provincial for the Society of Jesus; so were current San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery ’67, M.A. ’70, and Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan J.D. ’80; and from the U.S. Congress Zoe Lofgren J.D. ’75, Mike Honda, and Anna Eshoo came after sponsoring a joint resolution in the Congressional Record honoring Fr. Locatelli.

There were prayers and hymns and tears, a homily and eulogies—but if the evening had been left at that, Fr. Locatelli would not have been satisfied. So a true Locatelli-style reception followed, “with good Italian wine and good Italian food,” as Fr. Engh noted.

In his final words that evening, Fr. Engh recounted his last visit to Fr. Locatelli’s bedside a few days before. “I thanked him for his friendship and reminded him that his work, indeed, for Santa Clara is not done. He’s now our advocate in Heaven,” Fr. Engh said. “There’s much more to do to continue his legacy on Earth while he works for us above.”

To Follow and worship and love

From a homily for Paul Locatelli by Michael C. McCarthy, S.J.

Paul always hated long homilies and extended eulogies. In fact, he used to tease me. “The Irish,” he would say, “are the worst of the lot.” (Sorry, Bishop McGrath). Then he would really get in his digs. “In fact,” he would add, “Whenever I attend an Irishman’s funeral, I have my secretary cancel all my appointments for the whole day and night.” So when Paul informed me a couple of years ago that he named me, “Mick McCarthy,” to preach at his funeral Mass, I asked what accounted for his miraculous conversion. He looked at me with that big Locatelli smile. “At that point, Mick, I’ll be in a box and it won’t matter to me anymore. At that point, Mick, who’s counting the time? At that point, you can talk as long as you like.”

But I know you’re listening, Paul. So however many words it takes, it all amounts to this: We love you, Paul. We shall miss you dearly, Paul. We are exceedingly grateful for the man you are, Paul—a man of God. In fact, the Mission Gardens have never been so full of people longing to show their respect and affection. And we are here, Paul, to commend you to the same Lord who graciously sent you to us and gave us so much through you. We pray, Paul, that you hear him say: “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food.”

It is difficult, frankly, for most of us to wrap our minds around the events since Paul’s diagnosis in mid-May. Like others, I have never known anyone with as robust a constitution as Paul. So the swiftness of his death has rocked us all, especially his family. Al and Harry, I know that your brother has always been a colossus of strength for you and your families, and I know there is a hole in your hearts. I had the privilege of seeing Paul in many different contexts, from state occasions to family meals prepared by Lydia or Diane. You need to know sincerely that Paul was at his absolute best anytime he was with you as brother and uncle. Especially at the end. To my mind, the love and loyalty he experienced with you ran so deep and started from such an early age, that it set the pattern for his whole life, including his tenure as President of Santa Clara.

Paul once related to me the story how, as kids, he and Harry got in a car accident while he was driving. His own scrapes and bruises were nothing so painful as what he felt for his injured little brother, Harry. So it’s no surprise that on the hardest day of his illness, he told Sonny Manuel and me that above everything else he wanted us to comfort you. Tell them, he said, what Jesus said before he died: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me.” For me, though, that image of a 17-year-old Paul Locatelli intensely anxious for little Harry explains every speech I heard him give about the virtue of compassion and solidarity with the least of our brothers and sisters. It explains every speech, but it also grounds his sense of who this God is that he served his whole life long. It fills out his sense of who is this Christ, for whom Paul gave up everything he had and followed to his final day. Christ is the one who—even when he comes in all his glory, surrounded by angels and sitting on a throne before the nations—identifies with the hungry and thirsty, the alien, the condemned, the sick. This is the God Paul knew and believed in; this is the Christ Paul preached with his very life. This is the God Paul taught us to follow and worship and love. And this is the vision with which he led and formed Santa Clara University.

Moreover, he made clear it is the ultimate metric of our success. The passage just read from Matthew’s Gospel (25: 31–46), besides being a cosmic vision, is a final accounting—and don’t ever think Paul’s priesthood did not build on his training as a CPA. The last few years he had been teaching me to read audits. “Whatever numbers any financial genius may give you,” he would say, “you always need to find out the bottom line.” But to Paul there was always a bottom line under the dollar amount. He used to joke that his 20 years as CEO of the oldest and most trusted corporation in Silicon Valley gave him the authority to remind everyone—from professors focused on academic excellence to business people striving to boost their profits—that they have crucial social obligations to those in need—whether on the other side of the street or the other side of the globe. When people complained they were tired of hearing about all this social justice and solidarity, he had a classic Locatelli response. It’s an Italian word his older brother Al taught him: “Tough.”

“[We] must challenge the illusion,” he wrote in 2005, “of privilege and isolated individualism. [We must] bind ourselves emotionally and functionally to others and to the earth.” It was precisely this capacity to bind himself emotionally to others that made him such a wonderful priest. If it were not for the fact that, as a professor, I have close contact with the students SCU produces, I might easily regard Paul’s passionate challenge to educate for solidarity with the poor as a lot of noble rhetoric. But the reality is: He changed us. Let me quote, with her permission, the final paragraph of a spiritual autobiography written by a senior named Hilary. Paul never knew her. “I came to Santa Clara looking for the ‘typical’ college experience. It took me two months to realize that wasn’t what I was in for. Things I wasn’t searching for at all found me. God found me. I have been haunted ever since. God was always present in my life, always a lingering thought, always a point of confusion, always called on in times of need, but now God’s call is real. God’s call to live in global solidarity with others is something I just can’t shake. There may be times when I forget to pray. I go through phases of feeling God’s presence in everyday life, but often I don’t. But this call to a different kind of freedom and salvation has imbedded itself in me. The road is confusing and difficult, but I am forever grateful.”

This, Paul, is just a single fruit of your labors, and yet the full harvest multiplies exponentially. How many people will Hilary touch throughout her life? And how many others besides Hilary do you leave as your legacy? Oh, Paul, in the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world I pray God give you a complete vision of the long and mighty chain of souls whose names you might not even know but whose lives have been transformed by virtue of your fidelity to the Gospel.

Of course, that vision has already begun. In the car when we drove you from the hospital to Los Gatos, you broke down sobbing. “People have been so kind,” you said through tears. On your hospital bed, you asked me to read the following words at your funeral. “Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard, nor can the heart conceive what God has prepared for those who love him.” You emphasized how true this is. You said that, although it has not been without struggle, in your last days you felt a love that always attended your life but which you never saw with such depth and clarity. Through all the signs of affection and notes and emails Jerry McKevitt read to you from friends and Jesuit brothers. And especially through the presence of your family, you came to know just how abundantly God has loved you.

You told us to rejoice and be glad at what a blessed life you’ve had. You spoke of your abiding hope that the same God who gave you your blessed life shall one day reunite us, when we shall hear our names and rise again in wiser lives. How that shall happen beggars our narrow imaginations, but it must surely be linked to what the Son of Man says about being given food, drink, and a hearty welcome. If you’re an Italian used to family reunions at the Locatelli Ranch up there in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the vision of the prophet Isaiah serves us well for what we may look forward to.

In the meantime, Paul, pray for those of us still down in the valley, where we continue the work you once shouldered like a mighty Hercules. Pray for those of us who pause now in this Garden you once tended and loved but which tonight reminds us only of you. Pray for those of us who stop now and breathe in the evening smells of the Garden, though our eyes look up to the mountain of reunion. For on the mountain, the prophet says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines. And on the mountain everything that divides all people…the veil will be torn away and death will be destroyed forever.”

And the Lord God will wipe away every tear from every face. And whatever shame and reproach that covers us: that too shall be removed. And on that day we shall say: “See, this is our God. This is our God. This is our God, in whom we hoped for salvation. Let us rejoice. Let us rejoice. Let us rejoice, and be glad.”

A Jesuit’s Jesuit

By Mario Prietto, S.J.

I am deeply honored to be asked by Paul to give a eulogy this evening. I add my heartfelt condolences to Al and Harry and their families. What an unbelievable loss. Like all of us, I’m still in shock and feel like I’m crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, looking for Mount Tamalpais, and it’s not there.

Paul and I entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Los Gatos on the same day—September 7, 1962. He, a year and a half out of Santa Clara, working on his CPA; and I, a very wet-behind-the-ears graduate of Loyola High School in L.A. Over the years, Paul was a combination big brother and mentor for me, as I know he was for so many of you gathered here in the Mission Gardens this evening.

As some of you know, “Loco” or “Loc,” as we Jesuits called him, did not like long ceremonies. With the exception of his own, homilies that went more than six minutes drove him crazy. He complained to me once about a funeral he had attended where they had a handful of endless eulogies. He said that when he died, he didn’t want anybody giving a eulogy. I told him: “You know what Loc? It’s not going to be your call. In fact, do you know what I’m going to do for your funeral? At the end of the Mass I’m going to set up an open mic so that anybody who wants can come up and share their thoughts—windy SCU professors who never liked you, self-important Jesuits who want to talk about themselves. They’d all be welcome!” I won’t tell you Paul’s earthy response to my suggestion.

My earliest memory of Paul was from our first year of Novitiate. (Don’t worry, Loc, I’m not going to talk about every year!) The Locatelli family had given us a crate full of ducks from a hunting trip. Paul and John Mossi, another classmate of Northern Italian ancestry, were head chefs. It’s the first time I realized that Italians, when they cook, have a relationship with the food. Here these two guys were, actually talking to the dead duck and pasta, coaxing and threatening them to come out tasty and edible.

How “Papa Loc,” as the students would call him, loved to cook for people—family, friends, faculty and staff, students and Brother Jesuits. Many of us gathered here enjoyed his specialty: fresh ravioli, pork tenderloin, butter lettuce salad, and a nice bottle of red wine. One of the many ways he nurtured and showed us his love.

Prior to coming to Santa Clara in ’95, I worked for 14 years at St. Ignatius Prep in San Francisco. Toward the end of my 12th year, Paul invited me out for dinner. We ate at some Italian place on Stevens Creek Boulevard (Of the many times Paul and I went out to eat over the years, I never remember us not going to an Italian restaurant. One time I asked him: “Do you think we can try some other kind of food?” To which he responded: “What for?”) Toward the end of the meal, he asked me if I would like to work in campus ministry at SCU. I told him: “Loco, in case you didn’t notice, I have a job and am quite happy where I am.” “I know that, you dumb Mexican,” he responded, “but you’re not going to be there forever, you know!” Sure enough, two years later, I was working at campus ministry at Santa Clara, where I spent 10 of the happiest years of my life, thanks to Loco.

How many of us have been in that situation with Paul over the years? He was an uncanny judge of character and talent, especially as it could serve his beloved Santa Clara University. He recognized your unique gifts and helped you develop and use them. This, I believe, helped him to be the outstanding fundraiser he turned out to be. I used to love to tease him about his fundraising style. I said that whenever he went into a meeting with a big benefactor, he would bring two of his cousins from Boulder Creek, Guido and Carmine. They would be these big, burly Italians, one with a gold chain around his neck, the other wearing a tight-fitting T-shirt, exposing his muscles. They wouldn’t say a word, just be in the room. Before you knew it, the frightened benefactor hurriedly added another zero to the check.

Loc loved to give directions. Whenever you needed the quickest route to a place, he would be the best resource. For those of you who had the thrill of driving with him on the freeways, you know that he wanted to get there ASAP and would zigzag the roadway, expressing his frustration with slow drivers in the most colorful language. One time he drove me and Jake Donahue, another Jesuit from the Maryland Province, to Ben Lomond. It was a Friday afternoon and Highway 17 was jammed, so Paul decided to take Route 9, which is a very winding roadway. Let me tell you, Mario Andretti could not have done it faster. Jake and I were beside ourselves, praying our Acts of Contrition. When we finally arrived at Ben Lomond, I got out of the car and kissed the driveway in grateful relief, a melodramatic gesture Loco didn’t think was very funny.

When he was President, he was obviously a very busy man, with a lot of demands on his time. Whenever I would call his secretary, Joan Murphy, a woman of great dignity and poise, to test the waters, I would ask her: “Now, Joan, imagine you’re Snow White and one of the Seven Dwarves is in the next room. Tell me now, would that fellow this morning be Sleepy, or Dopey, or Sneezy? Or pray tell, would he be Grumpy?”

“Now, now, Father,” Joan would titter.

As a result of his hectic schedule, it would be hard to get him to respond to my calls. I told him in frustration one time: “Locatelli, you know the best way to get you to return my calls? I’ll tell your secretary that I’m in trouble, or need a big favor. Then I know you’ll answer my calls!”

And it’s the truth, isn’t it? Whenever there was an illness, a death, or some personal crisis, Paul would always be there, ready to help out, solve problems, and give solid advice. When I worked in Campus Ministry, if a priest was needed for a mass, or a wedding, or a funeral, as busy as he was, Fr. Locatelli would always be available.

For a sturdy Italian boy, Paul had his share of medical problems over the years. He told me once that his ideal doctor was one who was old, fat, and who smoked. That way, he could do whatever he wanted to. He figured he knew more than they did, so one time I told him: “Paul, you’re really amazing. I know you’ve got your CPA, your M.Div. and your Ph.D.—when did you get your M.D.?”

In this regard, I want to offer a special thanks to Paul’s primary care physician, Bart Lally ’59, a contemporary from their days at SCU. Bart was at a very special prayer/anointing ceremony we had for Paul at El Camino Hospital a couple weeks back. You are a real credit to your Jesuit education at St. Ignatius and SCU, Bart. Not only are you a competent physician, but you treated our dear Paul with such tender, loving care, and we thank you so much.

I’m coming in for a landing, Loco, so just relax and cool your jets up there in Heaven. Of all the things that I loved about Paul Locatelli, one of the greatest is that he never forgot his roots. This boy from Boulder Creek, who accomplished so very much in his short 71 years, was deeply proud of his Italian farming roots, and loved his brothers and their families more than anything. Unlike some powerful people, Paul always lived simply and preferred to be with family, brother Jesuits, and friends. Fancy places, famous people, and the trappings of power never interested him.

Paul Locatelli was a Jesuit’s Jesuit. Entrusted with responsibilities from novitiate secretary to rector to delegate to the last general congregation in Rome, he was always available to go where there was the greatest need. His care for senior, ailing Jesuits was remarkable.

When we had the big celebration in the Malley Center, honoring his 20 years of outstanding service as president, Al and Harry came up to me afterwards and wanted to know why he had to go, because he was doing such a good job. I told them that their brother was going to Rome because he’s a good Jesuit, a loyal son of Ignatius.

Al and Harry and your families, you have lost the greatest brother, uncle, and friend. Each and every one of us here this evening shares your sorrow. On behalf of the Jesuits gathered here especially, we want you to know that we are your brothers and always will be. Be alive in the Risen Lord Jesus, whom you loved so faithfully and served so well, Paul. We thank you for all you have been for us and given to us. You will always be in our hearts.

Ciao, Loco.


Hasta Luego.

Until we meet again.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled

By Lynn Locatelli

It’s an honor to eulogize a great man. But when that great man is your uncle, and your uncle is Paul Locatelli, this becomes an honor of a lifetime. I learned of this honor four days ago while I was here at Santa Clara, taking care of my final checklist from Paul. After hearing “Oh, you got a checklist too?” from everyone I encountered, I realized that anyone who has ever worked for Paul has experienced The Checklist.

Paul was very adamant about creating progress and making positive change. And he knew the quickest way to make change is to simply get started. All great accomplishments begin with a vision. Let me share with you one of Paul’s visions. (Many of you are familiar with this, but please let me share it with you.)

An acute sense of the possible—it is what others don’t see. When those with similar vision are drawn together, something extraordinary happens. Paul Locatelli’s vision: 1988 to 2008. October 2008, we celebrated Paul’s visions transformed into reality.

Many of you folks in this audience are more qualified to share Paul’s great accomplishments over the decades, but it’s my duty once again to bring Paul’s inner character to life and wind his personal dimension and last moments into this final goodbye.

Father Mick said Paul was at his best when he was with his brothers. This means a lot of things. It means that Paul enjoyed simple moments. He enjoyed flying in small planes with his uncle and his brother Al. He enjoyed taking his younger brother Harry fishing. And Harry’s most vivid childhood memory of Paul was when they didn’t make it to the dam that day, when they did roll the Jeep before ever getting a chance to go fishing. Now any of you that have ridden with Paul over Highway 17 know what a white-knuckle experience that is—an Italian driver through and through. We’re just really glad he didn’t try for a pilot’s license.

Paul attended many of our family dinners, which were often characterized by cheerful reminiscing about rural beginnings in the mountains of Boulder Creek. Paul grew up learning the value of hard work. He picked walnuts from the family orchard. He crushed grapes to make wine. He cut wood an entire summer for winter warmth. And at the ripe old age of 12, besides stocking shelves and working as a clerk in the family store, he began posting to daily ledgers. Undoubtedly, these experiences developed his appreciation for the working people.

This week, Fr. Jon Sobrino of El Salvador wrote, “Paul enjoyed being close to the people. Paul grew up with hard-working people, learned the value of the people, and dedicated his life to making everything better for the people in his crusade for social justice.”

Paul was at his best with his brothers, embracing his Italian heritage. And with the family beak, how could you ever forget that Italian heritage? But out of that Italian heritage came his love for pasta, his passion for food, his passion for preparing food. He grew up routinely helping his mother prepare meals for hungry, hard-working people. Every holiday dinner we had an apron ready and waiting for him, which he proudly wore. There are still aprons hanging in his room to this day. But more important than the food itself, it was about sharing those precious meals with family and friends. To our family, he’s been our friend Paul. He’s provided guidance, friendship, and inspiration. He’s been Father Paul, Uncle Paul, and foremost, Brother Paul.

Despite being a prestigious university president and a leader in world education, he always made time for what was important. And that was to be with family, friends, and the people—especially during their times of need, regardless of his busy schedule.

Paul called me one hour after receiving his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. And of course, his concern was not for himself, but for his family and the people he served. He was determined to put up a fight and be productive for years to come. There was more work to do and more pasta dinners to be shared. As his disease rapidly progressed—and it became apparent that a loving family, terrific friends, and a lifetime of memories of both professional achievement and personal experience are all one really possesses in the end—he wanted you to know that in the end, he did have it all. He wanted all of you to know how good his life has been, and that his life should be celebrated.

During his last weeks, he simply enjoyed quiet visits with friends, notes from friends, sitting with family at dinnertime in the gardens at Sacred Heart, and short walks to the bench overlooking the hills of Los Gatos. When walks were no longer possible, it was simply conversation that he enjoyed. We talked at length about the qualities of leadership and how those qualities bring people together.

Finally, when no words were spoken, he simply enjoyed the company of another’s presence. I was with Paul during his final night at Sacred Heart. Early in the evening, he’d communicate with thumbs-up, or thumbs-down, or a head shake when words became too labor-intensive. But later he became restless, so I played his favorite music. I talked to him a lot. He still remained restless. And then I realized it was the angels above, sparring over who could claim this visionary leader into their camp. And I thought, “Oh, I shouldn’t have thoughts like that. That’s just not right.” But the very next day, when I heard Fr. Michael Engh say he told Paul his work wasn’t done; he’d have to go to work advocating for everyone in Heaven. And I thought, “Nope, I was right. There are politics in the big house, and the angels are pretty serious about recruitment.”

A couple hours later, Paul became a bit restless once again. And despite communicating with body language all evening, I heard him say three words very clearly: “Why me now?” And I thought, “He’s negotiating with the Almighty, right in front of me.” Without a doubt, his leadership, his kind compassion, and his visionary qualities were needed in a higher place. And once again he heeded to his calling. Undoubtedly, he is in Heaven right now, configuring a checklist for each of the angels under his guidance.

I’m winding down—for you, Paul. This is short. Paul said many times, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” For now, hearts are troubled around the world. But if we all celebrate his extraordinary life, embrace his character, and honor his achievements by keeping his vision of creating the extraordinary alive, and transforming these visions into reality, the world will become a better place, and Paul’s legacy will live into eternity.

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