This web site is a memorial to those individuals who were passionate about the reform of the
Roman Catholic liturgy as set forth in Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
and who now, in eternal life, worship the God whom they served in this life.

Edward J. Kilmartin, SJ

Edward J. Kilmartin, SJ
August 31, 1923 – June 16, 1994

Edward J. Kilmartin was a Jesuit priest and theologian of liturgy; born in Portland, Maine, on Aug. 31, 1923; died in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 16, 1994. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1941 and was ordained in 1954. Having prepared to teach petroleum engineering in the ill-fated Jesuit mission in Baghdad, Iraq, Kilmartin next earned a doctorate in dogmatic and ecumenical theology under J. Witte at the Gregorian in Rome (1958). He was recalled suddenly to the Jesuit theologate in Weston, Massachusetts, to teach a course in sacramental theology, where he collaborated on New Testament Abstracts. This originally temporary assignment led to 19 years' teaching of historical-systematic theology specializing in sacraments—the final nine after Kilmartin relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1975 to 1985 Kilmartin directed the doctoral program in Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame. In 1985 he was appointed professor ordinarius of liturgy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome, and named professor emeritus in 1994. Summer-school teaching at Marquette, San Francisco, Notre Dame, and Creighton universities and in Australia acquainted numerous students with his theological method.

The work of the world council of churches on eschatology and baptism, Eucharist, and ministry provided a special focus at the beginning and near the end of Kilmartin's theological career. At Notre Dame he directed dissertations in Protestant and Catholic liturgical traditions. As member for 19 years of the Roman Catholic-Orthodox dialogue in the United States (for 13 years executive secretary) and active participant in the Oriental-Orthodox dialogue over the same period, he pursued a lifelong interest in the traditions of the undivided churches of the first millennium with a view to recovering common perspectives. Kilmartin was a principal drafter of the Roman Catholic response to the Lima Document, above all the section on Eucharist, for the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. He was also consulted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Kilmartin's thought was stimulated by key themes of European theology: Odo Casel's Mysterientheologie, anamnesis, the active presence of Christ, and pneumatology. He rooted his theology in New Testament and early liturgical sources, painstakingly analyzing them and integrating the gains made especially by the Germans J. Betz, K. Rahner, A. Häussling, L. Lies, and H. B. Meyer. Christian Liturgy (1988), his major work, presents a post-Rahnerian systematic theology of liturgy for which D. Coffey provides the trinitarian model. His work established parameters for and a method of systematic theology of liturgy in which the response of faith and the sacraments are brought back in all respects to their trinitarian foundations.

The major contributions of Kilmartin include: an articulation of liturgy's relation to the Trinity and the consequences of the personal missions of Christ and the Holy Spirit; a Eucharistic theology that, inspired by early church and patristic sources, relates this data to contemporary confessional and ecumenical questions; and a critical analysis of Christomonistic theologies of Eucharist and ministry for their failure to incorporate pneumatology and ecclesiology. Up to his death he investigated areas where official Roman theology could fruitfully dialogue with Eastern and Western liturgical traditions.

Bibliography: A complete bibliography and curriculum vitae is found in m. a. fahey, "In Memoriam: Edward J. Kilmartin, SJ (1923–1994)," Orientalia Christiana periodica 61 (January 1995). On ecumenism and ecclesiology: "Reception in History: An Ecclesiological Phenomenon and Its Significance," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 21 (1984) 34–54; Culture and the Praying Church: The Particular Liturgy of the Individual Church (Ottawa 1990). On eucharist and ministry: "Apostolic Office: Sacrament of Christ," Theological Studies 36 (1975) 243–64; "Ecclesiastical Office, Power and Spirit," Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society 37 (1982) 98–108; "The Active Role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Sanctification of the Eucharistic Elements," Theological Studies 45 (1984) 225–53; "A Catholic Response to Lima 1982," One in Christ 21 (1985) 204–16; "The Official Vatican Response to BEM: Eucharist," Ecumenical Trends 17 (1988) 37–40; "The Catholic Tradition of Eucharistic Theology: Towards the Third Millennium," Theological Studies 55 (1994) 405–57. On systematic theology of liturgy: Christian Liturgy: Theology and Practice. Part I: Systematic Theology of Liturgy (Kansas City, Mo.1988); "Sacraments as Liturgy of the Church," Theological Studies 50 (1989) 527–47.

Tribute prepared by M. M. Schaefer for