Father Donald G. Bahlinger SJ, a native of Baton Rouge, died Saturday, Aug. 19 at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion in Grand Coteau. He was 88 years old, a Jesuit for 71 years and a priest for 58 years.  

Father Bahlinger will be remembered as a man of zeal and compassion, according to family members.  

“His gift was to teach us to serve ‘the least of these’ without fear,” said Allyson Mayeux, a niece of Father Bahlinger.  

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Father Donald G. Bahlinger SJ

 

His life was celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial on Aug. 26, at St. Charles College Chapel in Grand Coteau. Burial was at the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College.   

Father Bahlinger was born Aug. 24, 1928, to Julius A. Bahlinger Jr., and Mathilda Fabacher Bahlinger, who preceded him in death. He had six brothers and two sisters. His brothers Julius, Vernon and Charles and sister, Sister Kathleen Bahlinger CSJ, also died before him. He is survived by his brothers Marion, Reginald and Harold and sister Sister Barbara Bahlinger CSJ.  

Father Bahlinger attended Sacred Heart of Jesus School and Catholic High School, both in Baton Rouge. After graduating from Catholic High, he entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1946 at St. Charles College.  

Following first vows he studied humanities in Grand Coteau and continued his studies at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Maryland and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics. He studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, earning a licentiate in sacred theology and later earned a master’s degree in counseling at Loyola University in Chicago.  

He was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1959 in St. Joseph Chapel at Spring Hill College.   

Father Bahlinger was part of two pioneering efforts in the former New Orleans Province, first in Houston and then in Paraguay. He was one of five Jesuits who founded Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas. From 1961 to 1976, he served as director of guidance and was principal at Strake from 1970-72. He also taught Latin, English, religion and speech and moderated several extracurricular activities. He is still remembered fondly by Strake alumni, for whom he was an important mentor.   

After a sabbatical in 1976-77, Father Bahlinger began to focus his energy on ministering to the Hispanic community. He spent two years working in Guatemala, from 1977-79, then volunteered to go to Paraguay when that province requested assistance. He served there for 16 years in the pastoral ministry, often working with the very poor.   

Father Bahlinger returned to the U.S. as assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church in Houston from 1996-98, but soon returned to Central America as pastor at San Bartolome in Arcatao, El Salvador from 1998-2005.   

He later ministered in various places including Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Antonio, Texas, and in the offices of Hispanic Ministries in the Archdioceses of Mobile, the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Diocese of Lafayette. He was serving at Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, Texas, when his failing health dictated that he be missioned to the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Pavilion in Grand Coteau in 2015.   Father Bahlinger is remembered as serving those most in need and was happiest serving in pastoral ministry to the poor.   

Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or online at jesuitscentralsouthern.org.