Funeral services were held here Nov. 1 for Father John Veltri, S.J., who died of a heart attack at his home in Pickering on Oct. 27.
He is best known for his years of service as a spiritual director to visitors of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph.
Upon hearing of his death, Ignatius Jesuit Centre Executive Director, Father Jim Profit, said, “This is a great loss for many. John was an amazing man who touched people of all walks of life. With great creativity, he helped make the spiritual exercises accessible to thousands of people throughout the world.”
Father Veltri began working at Loyola House Retreat and Training Centre, Guelph in 1967 and for 35 years acted as a trusted and creative spiritual guide for many people.
During his time in Guelph he wrote many books on prayer and worked with other local clergy to bring the work of St. Ignatius Loyola into people’s spiritual lives.
Retired United Church minister, Rev. John Buttars, formerly of Harcourt Memorial United Church, had worked with Father Veltri for more than 30 years and referred to his work and contribution to Guelph as a “great gift.”
Canon Jean Mitchell, a priest at St. George’s Anglican Parish in Guelph, met Father Veltri in 1986 and described him as “a wise and deeply caring spiritual director who had a discerning and compassionate heart for people from all walks of life and from all faith traditions.”
Over the years, Father Veltri often referred to his work as making spirituality accessible to non-professionals and people who hunger for spirituality but have little or no training in theology.
Along with the late Father John English, S.J., and Father John Wickham, S.J., Father Veltri renewed the authentic spirituality of the exercises; work that invigorated Ignatian spirituality throughout the world. He was the author of several influential books on prayer and Ignatian spirituality. He also developed a website that helped people to pray.
He was born in 1933 and entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1950.
Much of his Jesuit studies were completed in Guelph at the former Ignatius College Novitiate, where he returned to work for many years in retreat ministry.
Since 1986 he had been confined to a wheelchair with a form of muscular dystrophy but continued to work actively until his death.
A funeral Mass for Father Veltri was held at Holy Rosary Church in Guelph. Burial was in Guelph at the Jesuit cemetery at the Jesuit Centre.