Photo by Ben Liu ’15 – Fr. Harry “Dutch” Olivier, SJ, leads a prayer after the varsity football game against Desert Mountain Aug. 30. Fr. Olivier was the team chaplain for football and many other sports. He passed away March 17.
By Garrison Murphy ’15
During Fr. Harry “Dutch” Olivier’s final hours late Tuesday, March 16, Principal Mr. Bob Ryan asked him if he had a message to pass on to Brophy students and faculty.
He responded, “Keep smiling.”
Fr. Olivier passed away hours later March 17 at the age of 88 at the Arizona Heart Hospital.
“He lived his life joyfully and … he did what he loved doing until 24 hours before he died,” Mr. Ryan said. “That smile and twinkle in his eye came from a deep innate sense that God was alive in the world.”
The 2014-15 school year marked his 28th year at Brophy and his 71st year as a member of the Society of Jesus.
Saint Francis Xavier church hosted Fr. Olivier’s funeral service Monday, March 23, where students, faculty, alumni, the Phoenix Jesuit Community and others said their final goodbyes.
Fr. Olivier was born Sept. 5 1926 in San Francisco, CA. and joined the Jesuits in 1944 at the age of 18. He was ordained a priest in 1957.
He came to Brophy in 1987 where he taught Latin, religion and acted as an athletic chaplain for many sports teams.
Mrs. Sue Hornbeck said she worked alongside Fr. Olivier since August 1995.
“It was such a blessing and gift to see someone who was so loving and had such a gift,” Mrs. Hornbeck said. “He loved you guys so much and he loved his work so much.”
She said even though Fr. Olivier’s health had been declining, he continued his work as best he could.
Fr. Olivier taught an Ignation Spirituality class to seniors until this fall.
“When I was looking back at my life, he changed my viewpoint on how I thought about religion … he put me on the right path to my spirituality,” said Gabe Villa ’15, who was a student in Fr. Olivier’s last Jesuit Spirituality class. “Future students will be missing a lot of laughter … the whole atmosphere next year will be different.”
Villa is not alone in his observation of Fr. Olivier’s unique personality and presence in and out of the classroom. Others cited his sense of humor and optimistic disposition as distinctive qualities.
“It almost felt like winning the lottery having that kind of priest teach your class,” said Mr. Pete Burr ’07 who was taught as a freshman by Fr. Olivier. “His personality was bigger than the room … I grew immensely in my respect for him and the way we should live our lives.”
According to Mr. Ryan, although Fr. Olivier’s humor and personableness were “first-rate,” his empathy and joyfulness are what defined him most.
“Anybody who knows the Jesuits is aware of their world view, which says that God should be found in all things and many of us say that and try to be that but I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who lived it the way that he did,” Mr. Ryan said. “Everything in this world is a reflection of what God is and he really saw that and believed that.”