An Interview with Fr. James Stromberg
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of St. Thomas
Q: How did you first become interested in philosophy?
A: I took my first philosophy course at Notre Dame from Yves Simon, a French political philosopher—it was on the problem of universals! I was thinking about becoming a lawyer, and Simon said I should study natural philosophy if I wanted to go into law.
Q: Where else did you study?
A: After serving in the Navy and spending a semester at Notre Dame, I transferred to St. Thomas, where I completed my undergraduate degree. I received my Ph.D. from Universite Laval in Quebec.
Q: What led you back to St. Thomas?
A: I began my seminary studies after my first year of graduate school in philosophy. After my ordination, I was assigned to St. Thomas by Archbishop Brady.
Q: What did you like best about your work at St. Thomas?
A: I really liked teaching Ethics, and my favorite upper level course was Political and Legal Philosophy. One other thing I’m really proud of is that when I was chair of the Philosophy Department I helped bring Cardinal Ratzinger here for a symposium on faith and reason. He was a very nice man, very kind, and he took an interest in all of us even though he was already a cardinal at the time.
Q: What interests and hobbies do you have, other than philosophy?
A: Obviously priesthood, which of course is not a hobby. My assignment to St. Thomas by Archbishop Brady remained until my retirement. I did—along with my teaching duties, dormitory deaning, and finishing my [doctoral] thesis—serve as pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Belle Plaine for a year. And as well as my priestly duties at the university, along with the other priest/professors I served in various parishes on the weekends and holy days. Hobbies? A little golf and sometimes a little fishing with Drs. Richard Connell and Thomas Sullivan.
Q: What have you been doing since you retired?
A: I continue to assist at Holy Family, a very lively parish in St. Louis Park. I do some counseling, and I hear lots of confessions at the residence and throughout the Archdiocese—including Monday afternoons in the St. Thomas chapel. And I have done some one-on-one teaching for seminarians who might have need of catching up. And one of these days I hope to finish for publication a translation of St. Thomas Aquinas on Aristotle’s Politics.
Q: What advice would you give to young philosophers?
A: Have patience with your progress. Treasure your difficulties.
PDF of Interview