The University of Scranton Press Release
News and Information Service
06/20 - June 18, 2000

Scranton, PA 18510-4628


 Rev. George J. Schemel, S.J.

        The Rev. George J. Schemel, S.J., founder and director of the Institute for Contemporary Spirituality at The University of Scranton, died Sunday at Mercy Hospital. 

        Fr. Schemel, who was born on August 22, 1930, in Archbald, was the son of George J. and Anna Loretta Sullivan Schemel. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school and Archbald High School, where he was president of the Class of 1948. He also chaired the fiftieth reunion of his class in 1998. 

        A 1952 graduate of The University of Scranton with a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics, Fr. Schemel held M.A. and Ph.L. degrees from Fordham University. He received his theological training at Woodstock College in Maryland and at the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1971 he founded the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth at Wernersville, Pennsylvania, and served as its director for twelve years. 

        After returning to Scranton in 1983, he established the Center for Contemporary Spirituality at the University with the goal of bridging the best in the traditions of spirituality in the Church and contemporary theological and psychological learning and insight. Through the Institute, Fr. Schemel led programs in prayer and discernment and other aspects of Ignatian spirituality throughout the world, including the United States, Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, Italy, England and Canada. 

        His 16-video series "Ignatian Spirituality and the Directed Retreat" published in 1991 with Sr. Judith Roemer, assistant director of the Institute, has been used by groups in America, Europe and Africa. Fr. Schemel was an advisor to the board of the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, former president of the Jesuit Retreat and Renewal Ministries in North America and co-founder/director of ISCEP, which seeks to apply spiritual discernment to groups in the business setting. 

        Fr. Schemel was an extraordinary teacher who gave himself whole-heartedly to the study of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Over the years, he directed hundreds of individuals in Ignatian retreats, guiding them to a deepening of their spiritual life. He was respected within the United States and abroad for his spiritual direction and the gift he had for assisting men and women, religious and lay, Catholic and others, to discern the frequently difficult decisions in life they were called upon to make. He was a frequent advisor to medical and civic/business groups in the Scranton area. 

        For relaxation, Fr. Schemel was an avid fisherman, a kite-flyer and a woodworker.