His almost fifty years of teaching, both curricular and extracurricular, probably make Fr. Scheifler – in the words of Rector José María Guibert – a unique case in the history of the University of Deusto, where he also served as Dean of Theology and General Secretary. He helped many in their faith, by dismantling myths and helping to deepen their understanding of what is authentic. He is well remembered by his students, colleagues and friends as a “free man, a hard worker, with rigour and personality: he was one of those professors who made us read and think”, recalls the Rector, who was a student of his in 1989.
Scheifler played a leading role, along with other colleagues, in the transfer of the Faculty of Theology from a remote town in Burgos, Oña, to a major urban centre, Bilbao, when the Society of Jesus decided that theological education should be close to the university and in urban settings. In the years that followed, the University of Deusto hosted many seminars and debates on theological topics, with hundreds of participants, at a time of renewal in the life of the Church based on the ideas of the Second Vatican Council.
His links with Deusto go back to 1962. The last course he taught was “Science and faith” at the School of Citizenship – DeustoBide. ” He may well have set the record for teaching at the University of Deusto. I wonder if there has ever been anyone who has taught for so long”, says the Rector, who also underlines his commitment to the country: “He was an earnest analyst of many issues affecting the country. He brought rationality and humanistic criteria to debates. His passion for writing and teaching filled a lifetime devoted to service.
“At the age of 100, he was still posing existential questions about God, life and death and passionately searching for new answers,” points out the Rector. “José Ramón has left us at the age of 101, being until yesterday the oldest Jesuit, the ‘dean’, of the almost one thousand in the Jesuit Province. He recalls that in one of their last conversations he said to him: “My motivation has always been to help people to live better”. May he rest in peace.
The University of Deusto will celebrate a mass on Friday, 1 October, at 19:00 in the Gothic Chapel.