Kindness to students marked life of Jesuit Father Philip Amidon

Jesuit Father Philip Amidon taught theology at Omaha’s Creighton University, wrote about church history and translated early Christian literature. 

But he was more than a scholar. 

Father Amidon, who died May 14 at age 76, was a shepherd, known for his kind attentiveness to students, the couples he prepared for marriage and those he helped between hearing confessions, celebrating Mass and other duties, according to Cindy Workman, a Creighton spokeswoman.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, a private memorial Mass was held May 19 at St. John Church on the Creighton campus and livestreamed for those who couldn’t attend.

The Chicago native entered the Society of Jesus in 1961 and studied at Saint Louis and Oxford universities, specializing in early Christian literature.

He was ordained in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1974 and took final vows in 1987 at St. John Church on the Creighton campus.

Father Amidon began working at Creighton in 1981 and became “a prominent fixture” there, Workman said.

His service at Creighton was interrupted from 1989 to 1994 to do clerical work for his order in Rome.

Upon returning to Creighton, Father Amidon was an adjunct assistant professor of theology and residence hall chaplain.

“Being able to encourage students, and let them know I’m there for them and to give them the time they need, that is what I enjoyed most as an educator,” he had said.

In 2007, he published “Philostorgious: Church History,” and in 2016 “Rufinus of Aquileia: History of the Church.” His translations of early Christian literature also were published numerous times.

Father Amidon retired from teaching in 2017 but continued serving students while living in a campus residence hall.

The soft-spoken priest also served St. John Parish, presided at numerous weddings and Masses, and made himself available for confession, Workman said.

Survivors include fellow Jesuits.

Memorials were suggested to the Creighton University Scholarship Fund.

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