Sad news comes to Georgetown University alumni from Philadelphia, where Father J. Donald Freeze, S.J., passed away on Sunday, December 10. He was 74 years old.
Father Freeze was provost of Georgetown University during my undergraduate years and through the 198os. (I believe he retired in 1991, though I am open to correction.)
Although the provost's job is to oversee the teaching faculty of a university, Father Freeze was always accessible to students. He lived in a student residence hall as a campus minister, his door always metaphorically open.
Ironically, despite the many academic accomplishments that Georgetown could claim during his tenure, he will probably best be remembered for "Freeze's Breeze," the Mass he celebrated at 10:00 p.m. each Sunday in Copley Hall's St. William's Chapel. It came with a guarantee to students who participated -- that it would last no longer than 20 minutes. Anything that was optional (such as a homily) was left out. There are a lot of Georgetown alums who probably would have forsaken their weekly obligation had the option of Freeze's Breeze not been available late on Sunday evenings.
There will be a viewing on Friday, December 15, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. at Saint Joseph's University Chapel, 5600 City Avenue in Philadelphia, and another on Saturday, December 16, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. at Loyola College Alumni Memorial Chapel, 4501 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. The funeral will follow at 11:00 a.m., also at the Loyola Chapel.
Father Freeze will be missed.
Update: Here is more information, as it appears on the Georgetown alumni web site:
J. Donald Freeze, S.J., longtime provost of Georgetown, passed away on Dec. 10, at Manresa Hall Jesuit Community, St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia.
Freeze first came to the Hilltop in 1971 as assistant dean for Georgetown College, and was named assistant vice president for academic affairs to Rev. Aloysius Kelley in 1974. He served in that post until being appointed provost by then-President Timothy S. Healy, S.J., in 1979. After his resignation in June 1991, Freeze served as the academic director of Georgetown's Villa le Balze in Florence, Italy, for the following academic year. Under his leadership, the gift of the Villa and its use as a Georgetown study abroad program was developed. Subsequently, he was appointed rector of Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, Md., and then treasurer of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.
During his tenure at Georgetown, Freeze addressed a wide range of issues facing the university, such as undergraduate curriculum revision and the physical renewal of campus facilities. He was a valued senior administrator and often acted as the president's closest assistant. "His hallmark was his concern for students and faculty," says Georgetown Provost James J. O' Donnell. "He was accessible, responsive and effective. Father Freeze's Christian concern and saving humor were rich gifts."
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated by Rev. Aloysius Kelly, S.J., on Dec. 16, at 11:00 a.m. in the Loyola College Alumni Memorial Chapel, 4501 N. Charles Street in Baltmore. There will be a wake at the chapel preceding the Mass from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Arrangements are being made for a memorial Mass to be celebrated on the Georgetown campus in January 2007.