Gerry Whelan was born in 1959. He grew up in Dublin, and attended primary school with the De La Salle brothers and secondary school at Gonzaga College, run by the Jesuits. Major interests at this time included Rugby, sailing, and being a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, where he visited the elderly. He studied business and economics in Trinity College Dublin and sometimes thought he received more education during the holidays than during term time. He spent one summer in India, including working in Mother Teresa’s home for the dying in Calcutta; another summer doing community work in Dublin’s inner city; and a third summer working in a stock-brokers on Wall Street. It was during that summer that he decided to join the Jesuits. He entered the novitiate in Dublin, in 1982 and, after completing two further years of philosophical studies in Dublin, he proceeded to a two-year pastoral experience in Zambia. He has lived outside of Ireland ever since then.
He studied theology at Hekima College, the Jesuit School of Theology in Nairobi, and was ordained priest in June 1992. His superiors designated him to return to Nairobi as a lecturer in theology and to prepare for this he pursued graduate studies first in Boston and then in Toronto. In 1996 he was awarded a PhD in systematic theology for a dissertation: “The Development of Bernard Lonergan’s Notion of the Dialectic of History: A Study of his Writings 1938-1953.” This topic expressed his abiding interest in how the right kind of theological method can express both a loyalty to Christian tradition and an attentiveness to questions of social justice and the evangelizationof culture.
In the period 1996-1999 Gerry returned to Nairobi as a lecturer in Hekima College. In 2000-2006 he also took on responsibility as parish priest in the Jesuit parish near to the theology college. In 2007 he was assigned to teach theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, where teaches mostly diocesan seminarians and priests from all over the world. In 2013 he published a book: Redeeming History: Social Concern in Bernard Lonergan and Robert Doran (Rome, G&B Press, 2013). He is currently working on a variety of publications about Pope Francis.