Born in San Francisco on February 25, 1925, the son of Joseph and Anna (Re) Lo Schiavo, John attended St. Ignatius High School, where he was a star athlete, All-City basketball player, and class president. Upon graduation, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Los Gatos on August 14, 1942. Further studies took him to Gonzaga University (MA, philosophy, 1949) and Alma College for theological studies (STL, Santa Clara, 1962). He was ordained a priest in San Francisco on June 10, 1955.
As a young Jesuit before ordination, “Fr. Lo” as he later became fondly known, taught Latin and Greek at St. Ignatius High School, 1949-50. He then started his long relationship with the University of San Francisco, teaching philosophy, 1950-52 and again in 1956-57. After a stint as vice principal at Brophy College Prep, Phoenix, he returned to the Hilltop to teach theology, 1961-62, and then moved into administration, first as dean of students, 1962-66, and then as vice president of student affairs, 1966-68.
Fr. Lo Schiavo served as rector-president of Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, 1968-74, before returning to USF as rector of the Jesuit Community, 1974-77, one of the school’s long-serving presidents from 1977-91, and chancellor, 1991-2013. After nearly a half-century at USF, declining health brought him to Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in a ministry of prayer.
Fr. Lo Schiavo was a dynamic administrator willing to face tough issues. He was widely praised for his integrity in closing down USF’s nationally ranked basketball program due to irregularities in the early 1980s. He was also able to overcome financial problems faced by the university. He built up the physical plant of the university, including the acquisition of the Lone Mountain campus and the construction of the Koret Health and Recreation Center, and establishment many new academic programs. In 2013, the John J. Lo Schiavo Center for Science and Innovation was dedicated on the USF campus in his honor.
In addition to dealing with the high-profile situations of university administration, he also found time for priestly ministry, through the many weddings, baptisms, and funerals of alumni and friends, Mass regularly celebrated in St. Ignatius Church on the USF campus or the Carmelite monastery across the street, and the wise advice he gave to many. Father Lo was very active in community affairs and served on the board of directors or trustees of numerous educational, religious, and charitable foundations. He was the recipient of several honorary degrees and civic awards.
One of his most recent assignments was that of co-chair of the California Province’s Generations Capital Campaign for infirmary expansion and renovation at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, expansion of The Jesuit Novitiate of the Three Companions in Culver City, and Formation endowment for the education and training of future Jesuit priests and brothers.
Born of immigrant parents, he was especially proud of his Italian heritage. He was gregarious and affable, approachable, compassionate and intelligent, and committed to the ideals of Jesuit education. He was also an avid golfer.
He was preceded in death by his two sisters, Josephine and Lina Lo Schiavo. He is survived by many cousins.
Services will be held at St. Ignatius Church on the University campus, Fulton and Parker streets, San Francisco, with a Vigil on Monday, May 25 at 7:00 p.m. and Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, May 26 at 11:00 a.m. A private burial for family and Jesuits only will take place at the Jesuit plot, Santa Clara Mission Cemetery.
For more information on the life and career of Fr. Lo Schiavo, please go to http://www.usfca.edu/john-lo-schiavo/ from the University of San Francisco.
Donations in memory of Fr. Lo Schiavo may be made to the California Province of the Society of Jesus, P.O. Box 68, Los Gatos, CA 95031. For information on gifts in honor of Fr. Lo Schiavo to the Generations Capital Campaign, please contact Francine Brown at (408) 884-1632 firstname.lastname@example.org.