Lee, Father William James, S.S.

2012, February 19

Date of Birth: 1922, April 14

Each member of our Society of St. Sulpice who passes on to the Lord leaves a mark. Of some it can be said that with their death a page is turned in the ministry and life of our Sulpician community. That seems very much the case with the death of Fr. William J. Lee on February 19, 2012.

Born on April 14, 1922 in Wooster, Ohio, Fr. Lee received his primary schooling in Wooster and secondary education at St. Charles College, Catonsville and St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore. Before his ordination for the Diocese of Cleveland in 1946, his theological studies were at Theological College and The Catholic University of America (CUA) both in Washington, D.C.

In 1947 Fr. Lee earned an M.A. in economics at The Catholic University of America (CUA) and, fourteen years later, a Ph.D. in economics. He continued his education through seminars on labor relations at Cornell University and educational management at Harvard University.

Admitted to the Society of St. Sulpice in 1949, Fr. Lee held positions at St. Joseph’s College in Mountain View, CA, at St. Edward’s Seminary in Kenmore, WA, and at Theological College in Washington, DC. He will be most remembered for his long association with St. Mary’s Seminary: at the College Seminary on Paca Street, Baltimore (as faculty member, dean, and rector); at St. Mary’s College Seminary in Catonsville, MD (as rector); and at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore (as president). A singular achievement in the last of these roles was in 1975 when he constituted a Board of Trustees for St. Mary’s with many lay members. This was one of the first, if not the first, such board in Catholic seminaries in the United States., if not the first, such boards in Catholic seminaries in the United States.

Besides his ministry in Sulpician seminaries, Fr. Lee did yeoman service for the Society of St. Sulpice, Province of the United States. In addition to his participation in various committees, he was elected delegate to Provincial Assemblies no less than nine times. Among his committee work, two stand out: his membership on the Committee for Morally Responsible Investments and his role as coordinator for the bicentennial history of the Province of the United States. He served at Provincial Secretary for eleven years. In addition to representing the Province of the United States at a General Assembly of the Sulpicians and at the Interprovincial Assise, both in Paris. Fr. Lee made a notable and lasting contribution as General Treasurer of the Society for nearly twenty years.

Fr. Lee also served on various civic committees in the City of Baltimore and on committees of the Association of Theological Schools, the National Catholic Education Association, and the Maryland Independent College and University Association.

Our memory of Fr. Lee would be incomplete without mention of his much loved “cottage in the country,” the place he and a priest friend from the Diocese of Wilmington purchased on upper Chesapeake Bay.

In 1992, Fr. Lee retired to St. Charles Villa and, since 2006, at St. Martin’s Home. On February 25, 2012, Fr. Lee will be buried from the Chapel at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Baltimore, MD. Interment follows at the Sulpician Cemetery in Catonsville.

Written by:

Frederick J. Cwiekowski, S.S.