Two Year Anniversary of the Death of a Jesuit Giant: Fr. Terrance L. Mahan S.J.

To admit that you made a mistake is to declare you are wiser now than you were before. In not giving due notice of the death of this LMU Jesuit giant, we are sorry not to have posted something about this kind, wise, and generous man in a more timely way. But the greatness of his character merits mention, especially on the eve of the two year anniversary of his death.

These words from the obituary of Jesuits West capture only a tiny fraction of all he did for people at LMU and for so many others:

Father Terrance Leon Mahan, SJ, university teacher, administrator and former provincial of the California Province, died of natural causes December 8, 2020, at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 96 years of age and had been a Jesuit for 79 years, the most senior member of the Jesuits West Province in terms of years of service.

Fr. Mahan was born in Los Angeles on July 11, 1924, the son of Albert L. Mahan and Gertrude Tintle Mahan. He attended Loyola High School, and after graduating, entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos on August 14, 1941. Training took him to Gonzaga University for a philosophy degree, to the University of San Francisco for an MA in history, to Santa Clara University for a theology degree and finally, to the University of Wisconsin for a PhD in American history (1960). Along the way, he taught Latin at Loyola High School of Los Angeles (1948-49) and philosophy at Santa Clara University (1949-50). He was ordained a priest on June 12, 1954, in San Francisco.

Assigned to Loyola [Marymount] University in 1960, Fr. Mahan was in the classroom for only a years before being named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1961-69). He returned to the history classroom briefly before being named rector of the Jesuit Community (1973-76). He was named provincial of the California Province Jesuits for a term (1976-1982), overseeing the men and works of the Society in five states.

Upon completion of his term, Fr. Mahan became superior of Manresa Retreat House in Azusa, California, directing the staff and offering laymen’s retreats to hundreds of Southern Californians a year (1983-1990). After a year as assistant to the provincial, Fr. Mahan returned to the history classroom at Loyola Marymount University in 1991 and also served in Jesuit community administration. From 2007 to 2012 he was a popular spiritual director. In retirement at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Fr. Mahan was a kind and gentle presence in the community and his inspirational warmth, kindness and humor will be long remembered.


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