Fr Kevin O'Rourke, OP
died: March 28, 2012
A funeral Mass was celebrated April 3 at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest, Ill., for Dominican Father Kevin O'Rourke, a former St. Louisan who was a noted educator, administrator, consultant and author on the spiritual and ethical considerations in health care and scientific technology.
Father O'Rourke, 85, died March 28.
Born in Park Ridge, Ill., he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then studied at the University of Notre Dame for two years. In 1947, he entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), making his solemn profession in 1951. He was ordained a priest in 1954.
His studies brought him a number of degrees and distinctions, including licentiates in philosophy from Aquinas Institute of Philosophy in River Forest, Ill., and sacred theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, and a doctorate in canon law from St. Thomas University in Rome. He was a graduate fellow in the University of Chicago's School of Divinity. For distinction and dedication to writing and teaching, the Order of Preachers awarded him the master of sacred theology in 1983.
Father O'Rourke served as both professor and administrator in theology and health care ethics. From 1964-68, he was the dean of Aquinas Institute of Theology and from 1969-72, served as Aquinas Institute's second president. He was a professor of health care ethics at St. Louis University from 1979-2000, and most recently served as professor of bioethics in the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago.
Father O'Rourke's return to teaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology was interrupted by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decisions in the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton cases. In the wake of these decisions, the Catholic Hospital Association in St. Louis recruited Father O'Rourke in 1973 as director and later vice president of medical-moral affairs to provide leadership in Catholic health systems as the cultural and religious implications of legal abortion affected the way they provided care. He served from 1979-99 as director of the Center for Health Care Ethics in the Health Sciences Center of St. Louis University.