Jesuit Father Michael Proterra, 71, died on August 28, 2014, at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He was a Jesuit for 49 years and a priest for 43 years.
Fr. Proterra, son of Joseph Proterra and Majorie Eagan, was born September 12, 1942, in Seroe Colardo, Aruba, Netherlands West Indies. After graduating from Lago Community High School in Aruba in 1960, he studied for four years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and premedical sciences in 1964.
He entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, on September 7, 1964, and there pronounced his First Vows on September 8, 1966. Sent to pursue philosophical studies for two years at Weston College in Weston, Massachusetts, Fr. Proterra earned both a Master of Arts degree from Boston College and a Licentiate from Weston College in Transcendental Philosophy in 1968.
As a Jesuit scholastic, Fr. Proterra taught introduction to philosophy (1968-1969) at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia before being sent to study theology at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Maryland (1969-1970) and Woodstock College-Union Theological Seminary in New York City (1970 to 1972).
Fr. Proterra was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop James M. Holterman, O.P. at St. Rose Church in Newtown, Connecticut, on July 31, 1971, received a Bachelor of Ministry degree from Woodstock College/Union Theological Seminary in 1972 and then continued his studies in theology at Cambridge University in England from 1972 to 1976, where he received a Master of Arts degree. Fr. Proterra completed his tertianship in Oakland, California, in 1982 and made his Final Profession in the Society of Jesus at Loyola University Maryland on September 8, 1983.
Fr. Proterra began his priestly ministry as professor of theology (1976-1988) and chairman of the theology department (1983-1988) at Loyola University Maryland, remaining there until he was appointed to the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of theology and bioethics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, from 1988 to 1999.
Following a sabbatical, Fr. Proterra worked at PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organization), severed as a pastoral minister and a community organizer at BOCO/Newman from 2000 to 2004 with residence in Oakland, California. Traveling next to Kingston, Jamaica, from 2004 to 2006, he held the offices of professor of liberal arts at the University of Science and Technology, Chairman of the Board of Management and teacher of ethics and philosophy at St. George’s College and chairman and pastoral minister at Winchester Park Association.
Returning to the United States in 2006, Fr. Proterra served as parochial vicar at St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he remained until August 2014, when care for personal health required him to take up residence at the St. Claude la Colombiere Jesuit Community in Baltimore.