Remembering Mike Kelliher, S.J.

November 29, 2016

Dear Seattle University Community,

Father Mike Kelliher, S.J., a dedicated and longstanding faculty member, passed away on Thanksgiving morning. Fr. Kelliher had been living at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, Calif., following his retirement from Seattle University in 2012.

Fr. Kelliher generously served Seattle University for more than four decades. He was co-founder of the Department of Criminal Justice and served as its chair for many years. Under his leadership the department grew and became well regarded in the wider community, for instance receiving the “Outstanding Achievement Award for an Academic Program” from the Washington State Council on Crime and Delinquency in 1990.

Equally adored by his students, Fr. Kelliher twice won the College of Arts and Sciences' “Outstanding Faculty” award. He remained close with his students, many of whom went on to successful careers, even officiating at some of their weddings. An award established in his honor is given to the senior with the highest graduating GPA in the major.

Fr. Kelliher grew up on Capitol Hill and attended both Seattle Preparatory School and Seattle University. He later graduated from the historic Berkeley School of Criminology, where he studied under leaders in the field. In the words of one of his colleagues, “he was probably the only Jesuit certified polygraph examiner in the world” and taught a course called “The Polygraph” to many students through the years.

A beloved member of his department, Fr. Kelliher also shared in the pastoral life of the university, both in his service as a priest and through his gentle presence in the Jesuit community.

A memorial service will be offered to celebrate the life of Fr. Kelliher this coming Monday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Ignatius, followed by a reception in the Paccar Atrium in the Pigott Building. Let us join in expressing gratitude for his life, even as we recognize the loss we feel in his absence. May he rest in peace.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.