Dr. Mark Lowery, professor emeritus of theology at the University of Dallas, passed away on July 24 at the age of 65. Lowery was born on Aug. 24, 1955 in Culver City, California. He married Madeleine Murphy in 1979 and they had nine children.
Lowery was a professor of moral theology at UD for 27 years and the longtime chair of the theology department. Former students and colleagues remain inspired by him to this day.
Dr. Andrew Glicksman, chair of the theology department, first met Lowery when he took Lowery’s moral theology class as an undergraduate student. “[He was] just a model for what a professor should be,” Glicksman said. “He was very clear in his explanations and really took great care in making sure students understood the subject matter he was teaching.”
His energy and joy in the classroom formed students not only in their intellects alone, but also in their vocations.
Glicksman and his wife Emily took Lowery’s Christian Marriage course as an engaged couple. This course led Emily towards her master’s in theological studies from the JPII Institute where she focused her studies on the sacrament of marriage. Glicksman added that the course was also a beautiful addition to the couple’s preparation for the sacrament.
“[Lowery] formed our marriage in terms of helping us get a sense of what marriage was about: the beauty of marriage, the theological depths of marriage,” Glicksman said.
This ability to profoundly affect students flowed from Lowery’s personal holiness and zeal for his vocation as a husband and father.
His dedication to his family was movingly expressed through letters his children wrote to him in his funeral program: they revealed Lowery to be a servant whose personal love for Truth compelled him to fearlessly and joyfully share that Truth and infinite love with others. The letters also reveal a dad who loved camping, baseball, music, pranks and drawing.
“He was really a complete man in Christ,” said Fr. Joseph Van House, O.Cist., former student of Lowery and current theology professor at UD. “He still inspires me to think that any good thing done with enthusiasm glorifies God, and to think that we don’t have to only focus on one part of life.”
That enthusiasm and docility to the Holy Spirit has allowed Lowery’s legacy as a theologian to continue. Lowery was the author of “Living the Good Life: What Every Catholic Needs to Know about Moral Issues.” He wrote many articles that explained difficult moral teachings with compassion and wisdom.
“He was a master of spreading light first, including warmth, and not allowing things to get overheated,” said Van House.
But more tangible than Lowery’s academic legacy is the spiritual impact he has left on UD. “I pray for him every day and pray to him … for his intercession, because he was just such an inspiration for our department,” said Glicksman.
From 2008, Lowery suffered from Parkinson’s disease, a cross that he bore with courage and grace. “There are a lot of professors and students here who share his breadth and zest who are connected to him by no traceable lines. I think some of that is a mystical fruit of his fidelity through suffering in his last years,” said Van House.
Lowery himself emphasized the reality of this connectedness in his piece, “Some Reflections on Death,” which is included in his funeral program.
“Go to Mass,” Lowery wrote. “The whole body of Christ — including all souls in heaven — is there, present, at every Eucharist. That is where we are together.”
As the UD community continues to mourn the loss of a professor who poured himself out for his students and colleagues, the beautiful reality is that even students who never knew Lowery still meet him at every Mass in the Church of the Incarnation.
“As part of the Communion of Saints, he’s still with us,” Glicksman said.
Lowery was preceded in death by his father, Robert. He is survived by his mother, Mary, his three siblings, Madeleine, his children and seven grandchildren.