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Richard (Rick) René Gaillardetz, PhD
November 07, 2023


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Richard (Rick) René Gaillardetz, PhD, a Roman Catholic theologian, author, speaker, and beloved spouse, father, and grandfather, died on November 7, 2023, twenty months after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He passed peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family.

Gaillardetz was born on May 11, 1958 to Roger P. (deceased) and Jeannine C. (Dufresne) Gaillardetz in Bitburg, Germany at Spangdahlem USAFB. From 1976 to 1981, he attended the University of Texas, receiving a BA in Humanities. After working in campus ministry for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ft. Worth, Texas, Gaillardetz received his MA in Theology from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio in 1984. He then returned to work for the Diocese of Ft. Worth as Associate Diocesan Director of Adult Religious Education. In 1987, he attended the University of Notre Dame, receiving an MA and PhD in Theology in 1991. His studies focused on topics that would occupy him for the rest of his career, a theology of the church and the appropriate exercise of authority and ministry within the church.

While studying at Notre Dame, Rick married Diana Guedry Horadam in 1989, his one “true companion” of 34 years. Their loving, grace-filled marriage would yield, among so many gifts, four extraordinary sons. He would often speak of them as his most important legacy.

After concluding his graduate studies, Dr. Gaillardetz was hired by the University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas, where he taught for ten years. In 2001, he was offered the Murray/Bacik Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo, Ohio, where he would teach for ten more years, working in collaboration with the well-known priest and pastor, Fr. James Bacik. In 2011, Boston College offered Dr. Gaillardetz the Joseph Professorship in Catholic Systematic Theology. He taught at Boston College for twelve years, during which time he served as the director of graduate studies (2014-16) and chair of the Theology Department (2016-22).

In 2000, Prof. Gaillardetz was honored with the Sophia Award from the Washington Theological Union, granted each year in recognition of the awardee’s theological contributions to the life of the church. He served as the president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (2013-14), and in 2018, he received the Yves Congar Award from Barry University in recognition of theological excellence. Prof. Gaillardetz has authored or edited fifteen books and published over 200 academic articles, popular pieces, and book reviews, many of which received multiple awards. He was also a popular speaker at pastoral conferences conducted both nationally and internationally.

Prof. Gaillardetz’s many speaking engagements and publications attended to some of the most pressing issues facing the church today: 1) the interpretation and reception of the Second Vatican Council; 2) the appropriate structures for the exercise of authority in the church; 3) the possibility and limits of legitimate dissent and disagreement regarding official church teaching; 4) the relationship between ordained and non-ordained ministries and the possibility of both a married priesthood and the inclusion of women into the priesthood; 5) a theology and spirituality of Christian marriage; 6) spirituality and technology; 7) a theology of suffering and death.

Rick Gaillardetz is survived by his mother, Jeannine; his siblings, Sandra Neely, Lisa Blackman, and Julie Hosea; his wife, Diana; his four sons, David, Andrew, Brian, and Greg; his daughter-in-law, Loren, son-in-law, Michael, and daughter-in-law-to-be, Cecelia; and his grandchild, Elliot René. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, students, colleagues, and friends.

Feel free to read Rick’s reflections throughout the course of his 20 month journey with cancer at CaringBridge. Also find here Boston College’s tribute to Rick.

Visiting Hours at Gormley Funeral Home, 2055 Centre St., West Roxbury on Wednesday, November 15th from 4:00pm to 7:15pm. Followed by a Vigil at 7:15pm. Visitation will be held in St. Ignatius of Loyola Church, 28 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, on Thursday, November 16th from 8:30am to 9:15am and a Funeral Mass at 9:30am. There will be a reception and celebration of life immediately following the Funeral Mass at Gasson Hall, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill. All are kindly invited to attend services. Interment Private. Flowers can be sent to Gormley Funeral Home (2055 Centre St., West Roxbury) or donations made to Good Shepherd Community Care Hospice at or to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

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Gormley Funeral Service
2055 Centre Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132