News
Fr. Martin L. Elsner, SJ
Pastor and Educator Fr. Martin Elsner, dies in Southern Louisiana

Feb. 6, 2018 - Father Martin L. Elsner, SJ, died Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Opelousas, La. He was 86 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 55 years. 

Remembered as a gentle man of great faith and unfailing kindness, his life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Charles College Chapel in Grand Coteau, La. The visitation will be immediately preceding the Mass in the same chapel, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be in the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College, immediately following the Funeral Mass. In San Antonio, a memorial Mass is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 12, at 5:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, followed by a reception in Brother Gus Hall.

Martin L. Elsner was born in St. Louis on Sept. 1, 1931to Martin L. Elsner, Sr. and Mary Gerometta Elsner. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers John and Steve Elsner and sister, Mrs. J. C. Maguire, Jr. He is survived by nieces and nephews. 

He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on Aug. 14, 1949, at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La. He professed first vows two years later and was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1962, at St. Joseph Chapel at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. He pronounced final vows in El Paso, Texas.  

Father Elsner began his priestly ministry in Shreveport, La., where he served as assistant principal from 1964 to 1968 at the former Jesuit High School. He was then appointed rector-president at Jesuit High School in El Paso, Texas, where eventually he also served as both president and principal. He was a source of strength and consolation to the Jesuits and to the community at large when the school closed in 1972. He then became superior of Jesuit House in El Paso, a small community made up of Jesuits who had served at Jesuit High before it closed. These men continued the Jesuit mission of education by serving in public schools, because that is where they thought they would find the students with the greatest need; Fr. Elsner taught at Riverside Public School. 

Fr. Elsner was called from El Paso to serve in the provincial office in New Orleans in 1977. He served for one year as Vice Provincial for Pastoral and International Affairs, continuing for two more years as an assistant to the provincial with the same portfolio. 

After three years in province administration, he became pastor at St. Joseph Church in Houston, a post he held for eight years (1980-88). After a sabbatical, he became pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in San Antonio. He remained in San Antonio until 2017, serving twice as pastor (1989-96, 2000-2008) and many years as associate (1996-2000, 2008-2011). From 2011-2017, he was spiritual director at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio until declining health indicated a move to the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion in Grand Coteau in October 2017.

A gentle and kind man with an unfailingly positive attitude, Fr. Elsner moved easily from the classroom to pastoral work. He never wanted to be far from dealing with God’s people, whether in the classroom, the parish or in the seminary. He once wrote that it was the people he dealt with who taught him that “the directions for bringing Christ to folks … are as numerous as … seats in the Superdome.” 

After an official visit to El Paso, Provincial Tom Clancy, SJ, wrote to Fr. Elsner, “Your only fault, as I see it, is that you are too good … you … convey to others that very essential characteristic which we should all possess in greater abundance, namely, you look as though you really believe that you have been redeemed.” It was that sense of being redeemed that Fr. Elsner always wanted to communicate to all with whom he dealt.

He attended Jesuit High in Dallas, TX (1945-47) and Price High in Amarillo, TX (1947-49). After professing first vows, he studied continued his studies at St. Charles College. He studied philosophy at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., where he also earned a bachelor’s in English. He later earned an M.Ed. from Loyola University New Orleans and studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas.  

We remember with gratitude all that God has done through his life of service to God and God's people. 

Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this site.





Recent News

July 12, 2018 - Father John “Jack” Valenta, SJ, died July 10, 2018, in St. Louis. He was 95 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 56 years.

July 12, 2018 - Twelve new Alum Service Corps (ASC) members committed to a year of service at six Jesuit schools of the U.S. Central and Southern (UCS) Province.

June 27, 2018 - The quest for reconciliation drew more than 80 Jesuit partners in mission to Regis University in Denver in June. Attendees were challenged to “see, think and act” in new ways to create change and reconciliation in their work and in the broader world.

June 13, 2018 - The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States has invited Fordham University to create a new Initiative for Future Formation to reimagine Jesuit studies.

June 13, 2018 — Jesuit organizations, including the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, are "appalled at this ill-conceived decision."

June 1, 2018 - This year, five Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province will be ordained to the priesthood during two liturgies, one in St. Louis and one in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

May 31, 2018 — The Jesuits of Canada and the U.S. join our brother Jesuits and the Nicaraguan bishops in denouncing recent violence in Nicaragua.

view all news

Search news

Publications






Manresa House of Retreats
Manresa House of Retreats is located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Convent, La., midway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.