Noted Theologian, Author Fr. William Most Dies

Father William G. Most, 84, a retired priest from the Diocese of Dubuque, Iowa, died Jan. 31 at Prince William Hospital in Manassas.

The quiet, unassuming priest taught for more than 40 at Loras College in Dubuque. He retired in 1989.

For the past several years he taught at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria.He also was active at St. Lawrence Parish in Alexandria prior to his illness.

His contributions to theology have been recognized all over the world. He published 12 books and a host of articles on topics ranging from biblical studies to Mariology and Latin grammar.

Father Most's theological expertise was sought out by religious and laymen alike. He would spend hours composing answers to difficult theological questions.

He was born Aug. 13, 1914, in Dubuque, Iowa, where he attended St. Mary School and Columbia Academy. He studied classics at Columbia College (later known as Loras) and developed a lasting appreciation for the great pagan authors, especially Virgil. For a time he considered devoting his life to the study of antiquity.

After graduating from Columbia in 1936, he attended the Sulpician Seminary in Washington. In addition to his seminary studies, he received a master’s degree in religious studies from Catholic University. He returned to Iowa in 1940 where he was ordained to the priesthood on May 18.

After ordination, Father Most was appointed assistant pastor to a small parish in Peosta, Iowa. But his life as a parish priest came to an abrupt end in the fall of 1940 when the professor of Latin and Greek at Loras College suffered a heart attack. Father Most was summoned from Peosta and given temporary status on the faculty. He remained in that position for three years.

In order to prepare himself more completely for the teaching ministry, Father Most pursued his doctorate in classics at Catholic University from 1943-45. During this period, he developed an interest in theology that would become more significant as his academic career progressed.

He resumed his teaching position at Loras College on a permanent basis in 1946, becoming immersed in the intellectual life and in pastoral ministry to students. His efforts in translating patristic texts for his students led him to compose a textbook edition of St. Augustine's City of God, which was published in 1949.

In addition to his teaching, Father Most made himself available for spiritual direction. He would routinely see students for up to three hours a day during these early years.

As he sought to draw others more deeply into the mystery of Redemption, Father Most found that his own understanding increased. One important aspect was his discovery of the central importance of Mary in the Redemption.

Father Most began to seek a way to include Our Lady of Fatima's message in his direction to students. He found that the message of Fatima was not simply private revelation; the message was the Gospel itself.

At this time, he consecrated his priesthood to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and set out with a renewed mission as the instrument of her who brings Christ to all.

His outline for a study club on Mariology resulted in the 1954 book Mary in Our Life. The book C which received the Marian Library Medal from Dayton University in 1955 C appeared in three editions and was translated into six languages.

He developed a method of teaching basic Latin that involved the reading of specially-designed texts rather than the memorization of grammar tables. Father Most eventually published three text books of "Latin by the Natural Method" that were based on his teaching approach.

His 1972 book, Vatican II: Marian Council, presented once again the central themes of his earlier work along with the significant developments introduced by the council. In 1994, when Trinity Communications was developing the Catholic Resource Network, Father Most became an online "expert," answering questions posed by members. He continued this role on EWTN's web site when CRNet merged with EWTN to become EWTN Online Services. Later, when PetersNet was developed in 1997, Father Most also answered questions there, in connection with The Most Database. As Father Most's online reputation grew, more people began to write to him privately by email. During the past couple of years, he would often spend several hours each day answering messages, both public and private. This was not easy work for him. For the past several years, he lacked full mobility in his fingers, so typing was very difficult. Jeffrey Mirus, former director of Christendom Press and Trinity Communications, helped publish some of Father Most’s books and said that "the number of correspondents who repeatedly sought his advice and explanations is truly astonishing." Mirus admired Father Most’s perseverance in serving the Church even throughout his illness. "His ability to answer questions on EWTN’s web site and PetersNet was a source of continuous delight to him, because it gave him plenty to do for souls even during those final years when he could move but little," said Mirus. "He was one of those rare few who kept his hand to the plow and never looked back." Wake services were held Feb. 3 at All Saints Parish in Manassas followed by an all-night vigil. The funeral Mass was offered Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at All Saints with burial to follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Hoadly. Copyright ?1999 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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