Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Padre" Art's legacies

The University of Portland, a Catholic school, has many priests, but only one, Father Art Schoenfeldt, who died at age 77 last Sunday back in Notre Dame, Indiana, was known as “Padre.”

I got to know Art when I taught journalism on the North Portland campus in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He loved writing and writers, and when he heard I, a newcomer to campus, was a writer, he sought me out to offer a warm welcome.

In that brief initial conversation, I knew that Art, with his open, inquiring, cheerful way, was there to help if I ever needed it.

Others knew it too, which is why so many turned to him for counsel — and fondly called him “Padre.”

As my friend Brian Doyle, a writer and editor based at UP, put it in an Oregonian obituary, “Thousands of people trusted him with their hearts.”

Art was “Padre” in another way too.

During my time at UP, from 1986 to 1993, Art and his sister founded and endowed a writers’ series that brought famous writers to live and lecture on campus. The Schoenfeldt series was, and is, a great success and a bounteous gift to the campus community.

Padre Art's inspiring writers' series and trusted counsel are his great legacies.

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