By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News
The Rev. George F. Wiltz was an ordained Jesuit priest who used his love of Cajun cooking to reach people.
The Rev. George Wiltz, a Jesuit priest and Cajun chef, stirred the roux he made for gumbo at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas in 1999. One of his 10-person dinners once raised $3,500 at a Dallas charity auction. Father Wiltz died Friday at a New Orleans hospital of complications from gallbladder surgery. Warm and quiet, Father Wiltz made friends with people he worked with across the South, including at St. Rita Catholic Church in Dallas and the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas. Father Wiltz, 73, died Friday at a New Orleans hospital of complications from gallbladder surgery last week. Visitation will be at 9 a.m. today at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in New Orleans. A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. today at the church. He will be buried in Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La. Father Wiltz perfected his culinary skills over more than 40 years as a Jesuit educator and administrator. He first tapped his cooking talent at a Jesuit seminary in Kansas, cooking for the students during holidays, when the staff was away. Father Wiltz cooked to reach people and to raise money. Once, one of his 10-person dinners raised $3,500 at a Dallas charity auction. He and another Jesuit priest, the Rev. Hacker Fagot, later wrote a cookbook, New Orleans Cooking En Famille. Mike Bourg, executive director of the Jesuit Seminary and Mission Bureau in New Orleans, said the two priests put on a wonderful cooking and spiritual show.
"Father Wiltz would get up and talk about all the imagery of food within the Bible; he went through the Old Testament and New Testament," Mr. Bourg said. "Then Father Hacker would get up and say, 'OK, let's make shrimp rémoulade.'
"It was a wonderfully light day that kind of educated people about all the wonderful messages that God gives us through food and eating together and sharing with one another."
Father Wiltz was director of Jesuit retreat houses in Louisiana, Atlanta and Lake Dallas.
The Rev. Joseph Tetlow, director of the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, said Father Wiltz was an energetic builder.
"Out here, he built several of the buildings, because he felt that we would have more people coming if we had the space to have them," Father Tetlow said. "He was correct about that."
Father Wiltz was twice director of the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House, for five years in the late 1970s and from October 1997 to October 2003. He was associate pastor at St. Rita Catholic Church in Dallas for about a year beginning in 1997. At the time of his death, Father Wiltz was associate pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in New Orleans. "It was so easy for him to get to know people," said the Rev. Donald Hawkins, the church's pastor. "People automatically liked him, and he made friends easily." Father Wiltz was born in New Orleans, where he graduated from Jesuit High School in 1952. He entered the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits – at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La., in August 1952. He received his undergraduate degree at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. Father Wiltz taught at Jesuit High School in Shreveport, La., before he was ordained in June 1965. He received his theology degree from St. Mary's College in Kansas. Father Wiltz had been superior of young Jesuit seminarians at Spring Hill College and Loyola University in New Orleans. He also served as president of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., director of the Jesuit Seminary Fund in New Orleans and superior at Ignatius Residence, the Jesuit retirement home in New Orleans. Father Wiltz is survived by three sisters, Juanita Larmann of Pittsburgh, Marie Blanche Halley of Metairie, La., and Dolly Ann Peltier of Atlanta; and a brother, Roland Wiltz of Metairie.
Memorials may be made to the Jesuits Office of Development, 710 Baronne St., Suite B, New Orleans, La. 70113. Link (here)