Fr. William R. Stoeger, S.J. was a staff scientist for the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson, specializing in theoretical cosmology, high energy astrophysics, and interdisciplinary studies relating to science, philosophy and theology.

Br. Guy says that Bill was an “outstanding — and interesting — member of the Vatican Observatory staff. He was equally comfortable talking about cosmology with Stephen Hawking (whom he knew at Cambridge back in the 1970s) and giving retreats to sisters (which he did often, and memorably well.)”

Vatican Observatory Summer School Faculty

Image: The 1990 Vatican Observatory Summer School centered on the structure of galaxies and the spectral classification of stars. Shown here include (from left) Fr. Martin McCarth S.J.; John Stocke (back to the camera); a distinguished visitor (possibly John Broadley, ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See) speaking with Fr. Chris Corbally S.J.; Fr. Manny Carreira S.J.; and Fr. Bill Stoeger S. J. Not shown were faculty members Bob Garrison and Vilppu Piirola.

Bill Stoeger was born in 1943 in Torrance, California and grew up in Redondo Beach, California. He entered the Society of Jesus in September 1961, and in 1967 completed his bachelor’s degree with honors in philosophy from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama.

In 1969 he was awarded an M. S. in physics from UCLA. After lecturing briefly in the physics department at the University of San Francisco, he began theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California where he finished an STM and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972. Afterwards he pursued doctoral studies in astrophysics at Cambridge, UK and completed his PhD in 1976.

From 1976-1979 he was a research associate with the theoretical gravitational physics group at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. He joined the staff of the Vatican Observatory in September 1979.

Fr. Stoeger’s research has dealt with various problems connected with the physics of accretion onto black holes, and mathematical and physical issues connected with torsion and bi-metric theories of gravity, as well as the harmonic map structures contained in gravitational theories including general relativity.

Black Hole
Artist’s rendering of a large black hole with accretion disk and relativistic jet. Credit: Bob Trembley / SpaceEngine.

In the first decade after the millennium, he had concentrated on observationally oriented projects in theoretical cosmology, attempting to build more adequate bridges between theory and cosmologically relevant astronomical observations. He also continued to pursue some research on the physics of the central engine in active galactic nuclei and quasars.

Besides his research and writing in cosmology and astrophysics, Bill was very active in lecturing and teaching at the University of Arizona, at the University of San Francisco and at Vatican Observatory Summer Schools.

Pope John Paul II with Vatican Observatory Team
Present here with Pope John Paul II on the feast of St. Ignatius in 1995 are Br. Guy Consolmagno S.J., Fr. William Stoeger S.J., Fr. Sabino Maffeo S.J., and Mr. David Brown S.J.

Fr. Stoeger also exercised his priestly ministry in the Diocese of Tucson helping out in parishes. We was a very fine spiritual director and gave retreats around the US. He was much appreciated for his deep spirituality and profound knowledge.

Father William R. Stoeger, SJ died on March 24, 2014, at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California, where he was being treated for an aggressive form of cancer.

From the PhilosophyCosmology YouTube channel

Bill Stoeger YouTube Playlist
Bill Stoeger Wikipedia Entry
Bill Stoeger Entry