Published November 29, 2007
Jesuits are urged to be men for others. And for Jesuit Father George Wiltz, that meant serving people around the altar as well as around a dining room table.
Father Wiltz, a New Orleans native, lived his life as a Jesuit for 55 years, a priest for 40 years and as a Cajun chef.
Father Wiltz, 73, died Oct. 26, in his native city from complications following surgery. During his years of ministry, he directed Atlanta’s Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House, along with other Jesuit schools and retreat houses across the South. He was buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La.
“Father Wiltz was a very charismatic man, well liked. He was very charming,” said Debbie Brumelow, the general manager at the Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House. Father Wiltz hired her for the position.
Father Wiltz donned a chef’s hat first while a student at the Jesuits’ St. Mary’s Seminary in Kansas. During the holidays when the regular cooks went home, Father Wiltz took over. He’d stir up food for some 200 of his fellow Jesuits in theology studies.
His culinary skills made him well known. A Wiltz-prepared dinner for 20 people raised some $2,800 as a Dallas fundraiser.
Tapping into his upbringing, Father Wiltz relied on primarily Cajun cuisine to satisfy people’s hunger. He and another Jesuit priest, Father Hacker Fagot, penned a cookbook, “New Orleans Cooking En Famille.” The book features a variety of Cajun cooking, from fancy New Orleans barbecue shrimp to the staple red beans and rice.
According to a Jesuit magazine, the two priests-turned-cooks faced some obstacles putting recipes down on paper as they converted Father Wiltz’s “a dash of this, a bit of that recipes to the measurements more-exact format cookbook editors prefer.”
Father Wiltz entered the Society of Jesus at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, La., in August 1952 and was ordained in June 1965.
Father Wiltz served in many roles, from the superior of Jesuit seminarians at Spring Hill College and president of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., to director of the Jesuit Seminary Fund in New Orleans and superior at Ignatius Residence, the Jesuit retirement home in New Orleans. He served in Atlanta from 1988 to 1993. At the time of his death, Father Wiltz served as associate pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church in New Orleans.
He is survived by three sisters, Dolly Ann Peltier of Atlanta; Juanita Larmann of Pittsburgh; and Marie Blanche Halley of Metairie, La.; and a brother, Roland, of Metairie.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Jesuits Office of Development, 710 Baronne St., Suite B, New Orleans, LA 70113