Papers of Fr. Richard W. Rousseau, S.J.

Father Rousseau

Biographical Sketch

Fr. Richard Wilfred Rousseau, S.J. was a theology professor at the University of Scranton for twenty-six years and founder and director of the Ridge Row/University of Scranton Press.  He was born September 26, 1924 in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.  He attended St. Joseph’s Parish Grammar School and Assumption Prep before attending Holy Cross College in 1941. After completing his sophomore year he reported to St. Stanislaus Novitiate/Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts to begin Jesuit training.  He entered into the Jesuit Society February 1st, 1943.  Fr. Rousseau obtained undergraduate, graduate, and licentiate degrees in philosophy from Weston College, a constituent school of Boston College. He was ordained August 15, 1954, and he continued his education at Boston College, earning a master of arts in English.  He later earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from St. Albert de Leouvian in Belgium and St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. Fr. Rousseau took his final vows October 19, 1979.

He taught history and French at Fairfield Prep in the beginning of his career and then theology at Boston College from 1956 to 1960, serving as department chairman. He also taught theology/religious studies at Fairfield University, Weston School of Theology, and Spring Hill College.  From 1979 to 2005, Fr. Rousseau taught at the University of Scranton and was elected chairman of the Theology/Religious Studies Department for fifteen years.

Fr. Rousseau pursued many professional achievements throughout his career. While teaching at Fairfield, he received a Fulbright grant to study in India and gain experience in world religion. Later, he started the “Workshop for Christian Unity,” which became the principal ecumenical meeting in the United States sponsored by Catholics, and he also became an associate director of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches in New York City for three years. In 1972, Fr. Rousseau accepted a five year term as dean of Weston College, a Jesuit seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also served as a dorm counselor at Boston College, Fairfield, and eventually in Hannan Hall at the University of Scranton.  From 1963 to 1973 Fr. Rousseau was the co-editor of a Catholic theology book series, “Catholic Theology Today,” and he also published many articles on Catholic education in a variety of journals.  As founder and director of the Ridge Row/University of Scranton Press for more than twenty years, Fr. Rousseau published approximately eighty books on theology and Pennsylvania culture.

Fr. Rousseau has a strong interest in art, particularly acrylic painting and photography, which he began exploring as a child. He studied in the art department at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in the Art Student League in New York City, and under Don Stone in Rockport, Massachusetts. During the 1960’s he combined photography with acrylic painting on canvas, and he continues to explore digital photography.  He helped develop a stronger artistic atmosphere on the University of Scranton campus, establishing a Campus Art Committee that lead to a formal art department, which he chaired for its first years of development.  Fr. Rousseau also served for six years as president of a local Scranton group, The Artists for Art Association (AFA), successfully bringing the association back from near financial failure. He also enjoyed participating in art exhibits, defining his style as iconography of the twentieth century, and he was awarded recognition for his talent in religious art. Four of his paintings are on display in the fourth floor Special Collections room of the University of Scranton Library. They are adaptations of the authors of the Gospels represented in the illumination style of the “Book of Kells.”

In the late 1960’s Fr. Rousseau’s parents designated what assets would have been left to him to be placed into a trust fund used to purchase scholarly books for the University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library.  The trust became operational after his mother’s death in the late 1970’s. The collection focuses on signed, first editions, and a rotating collection can be viewed in a glass case in the fifth floor Heritage Room.

After retiring from his position as Director of the University of Scranton Press in 2005, Fr. Rousseau returned to the New England Province and began publishing recorded oral histories of New England Jesuit members.  A website was launched to share the interviews. It features photographs, audios, and texts of over one hundred completed interviews.


Rousseau, R.W. (Ed.) (2007). New England Jesuits oral history program: Fr. Richard W.
Rousseau, S.J. (Vol.58). Weston, MA: Jesuit Oral History Program.

Submitted by Elizabeth Teets
March 12, 2012

Scope and Content Note

The Fr. Richard W. Rousseau, S.J. collection contains one box of material with eleven folders and several loose items donated by Fr. Rousseau.  The material largely consists of his travel diaries, published and non-published articles, and personal documents.  

Series Lists

Series 1- Diaries
This series consists of one folder with twelve personal diaries written by Rousseau between January 1951 and September 1953 mainly detailing his travels around Europe and his life in the Jesuit society.Series 2- Published & Unpublished Articles
This series consists of four folders of materials, mostly articles, written by Fr. Rousseau.
Series 2- Published & Unpublished Articles
This series consists of four folders of materials, mostly articles, written by Fr. Rousseau.
Series 3- Personal Documents
This series consists of five folders largely related to his ordination, art work, personal writings, and family. Included in the material are a small amount of photographs, news clippings, correspondence, poetry, and art work. Also included in this series are diplomas from Assumption College High School and St. Paul University, a Pro Deo Award from the University of Scranton honoring his first ten years of service, and his graduate school transcript from Boston College.
Series 4- Acquired Publications
This series consists of one folder of publications acquired by Fr. Rousseau.