Father Francis X. Pistorius, SJ, died Wednesday, July 13, at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in New Orleans. He was 75 years old, a Jesuit for 56 years and a priest for 44 years. Remembered with affection for the generosity of his service, especially to his brother Jesuits, his funeral was Saturday July 16 at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in New Orleans. Burial was at the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La.
Born in Shreveport, La., on April 6, 1941 to Merlin C. and Helen Doyle Pistorius, Francis was one of six children. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Ann Joan Wheat and a brother, Joseph Pistorius. He is survived by two brothers, Paul C. Pistorius of Shreveport and Fred E. Pistorius of Marlton, NJ and a sister, Mary Helen Childers of Shreveport.
Fr. Pistorius was very much a man of the heart. He loved community, and did his best to encourage and enliven it, whether in a leadership role or not. He was direct and honest and had a fascination with evolving communications media as a means of connecting with people at a deep level.
Following graduation from St. John’s High School (later renamed Jesuit High) in Shreveport, Francis entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1959 at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau. Following first vows in 1961, he studied humanities at St. Charles College and philosophy at Spring Hill College in Mobile. He earned a bachelor of arts in secondary education (1965).
He taught at Jesuit High in Shreveport and Jesuit High in Tampa before going to Canada to study theology at Regis College in Willowdale, Ontario. During summers, he earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin (1971) and a Master of Sacred Theology from Regis College, Denver (1973). He was ordained June 9, 1972 at St. John Berchmans Church in Shreveport. He pronounced his final vows on August 15, 1978 at St. Rita Church in Dallas.
His first assignment after completing his theology studies was as assistant novice director at the Jesuit novitiate in Grand Coteau, assisting in the training of first and second-year Jesuits. This proved a foreshadowing of his life of service; he went on to devote more than 28 years of his active apostolic life to internal ministry to Jesuits. After serving briefly at St. Rita’s parish in Dallas (1976-77) and at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, in 1979 he was missioned to Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas as counselor, teacher and chaplain; he was named rector of the community in 1980.
In 1985 he became rector at the Strake Jesuit community in Houston, where he served until 1987, when he was named director of novices for the former New Orleans Province, a position he held until 1995. Beginning in 1981 until the end of his term as novice director, he was one of the consultors to the province’s formation assistant.
He served as pastor and superior at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Spring, Texas, 1996-2006, then associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in New Orleans until 2010, at which time poor health dictated his move to Our Lady of Wisdom.