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Loyola celebrates the life of Barry Estadt, Ph.D., founding director of Pastoral Counseling program

Barry Estadt, Ph.D., professor emeritus of pastoral counseling

Remembered as a brilliant, humble leader and visionary, Barry Estadt, Ph.D., professor emeritus of pastoral counseling, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Estadt, who came to Loyola in 1976, was the founding director of Loyola’s Pastoral Counseling program and taught at the University until his retirement in 1999.

“He was a force for decades at Loyola and a pioneer. He was a gentle mind but he was also a very good clinical supervisor. He integrated professional clinical skills with a spiritual undertone—that was the innovative work that he did,” said Rev. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., Loyola trustee and former chair of the Pastoral Counseling department. “Barry was someone who thought outside the box, a creative mind who used to talk about training students in creativity, competence, and compassion.”

Among the many honors Estadt received were Loyola’s prestigious President’s Medal in 2001 and a distinguished service award from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. A medal in his name has been awarded to graduating Pastoral Counseling students each spring.

“He was really quite a person with determination, creativity, and an innovative approach to getting things done,” said the Rev. Melvin Blanchette, S.S., who was Estadt’s first hire to teach at Loyola in 1977. “We worked very well together to build the Pastoral Counseling program into the finest program in the country. And as Barry said, ‘If it was the best in the country, it was the best in the world.'"

Estadt, who grew up in Butler County, Pa., completed his doctorate at Catholic University. A Franciscan Capuchin priest when he arrived at Loyola, Estadt made the decision to leave the priesthood and religious life in 1988 when he fell in love and decided to get married. Estadt remained at Loyola and continued to teach, write, and help grow and shape the Pastoral Counseling program. At its peak, the program was internationally known and had as many as 325 students from around the world. The University announced that the program would close in January 2017, and it officially closed June 30, 2020.

Robert Wicks, Psy.D., professor emeritus of pastoral counseling, recalls that Estadt had a sense of cura personalis that he extended to his students and colleagues.

“He was a visionary, mentor, educator, leader, and person of integrity who never abandoned his Franciscan roots,” Wicks said. “He really should have been a university president but instead wanted to lead a program that integrated psychology and spirituality, educated laity and local ministers from poor areas, and taught counseling to Jesuits and members of other religious orders so their professional and healing presence would be felt around the world.”

While at Loyola, Estadt was also a licensed psychologist in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania. He received a diploma in Counseling Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology, a diploma from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and was a certified supervisor with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

A scholar as well, Estadt was an editor of Pastoral Counseling and Pastoral Counseling in a Global Church and The Art of Clinical Supervision: A Pastoral Counseling Perspective.

“I have found that when you take knowledge and you add humility, you get wisdom. Then when you take that very wisdom and add it to compassion, you get love...and God is love.  Barry Estadt was that kind of person of love,” Wicks said. “He is physically gone now—as is the Pastoral Counseling department—but what he started as a part of our psychology department and led to two master's degree programs, a Certificate of Advanced Studies, and a Ph.D. will live on in the diaspora, as he will live on in the minds and hearts of the students, staff, and colleagues whose lives he touched and transformed.”

Estadt passed away in Clearwater, Fla., and is survived by his wife, Jean Marie Estadt, M.S. ’79.


Estadt will be remembered in the intentions at the 5 p.m. Mass in Loyola’s Alumni Memorial Chapel on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Arrangements will be posted here when they are available.