Rev. Joseph P. Sanders, SJ, was born in Philadelphia on June 10, 1930. He graduated from St. Joseph’s Prep and entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, Pa. in 1948. He attended Bellarmine College in Plattsburg, NY, where he received his bachelor’s degree, Master of Arts and Licentiate in Philosophy. He was ordained a priest on June 18, 1961.
Following ordination, Fr. Sanders received his Master’s in Sociology from Saint Louis University and spent three years teaching the subject at Wheeling Jesuit University before heading to Boston College to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology.
Fr. Sander’s love of Sociology and Wheeling Jesuit University surely stuck. In 1973, he began what would become a 26-year tenure at WJU. From a professor of sociology and anthropology to teaching international and Appalachian studies, Fr. Sanders was a beloved icon on campus for more than two and a half decades. He even had a student award named after him for outstanding research in social sciences.
In 2000, Fr. Sanders returned to the Jesuit Community at Wernersville, Pa. where he served as a pastoral minister for twelve years. He passed away at Manresa Hall Jesuit Community in Philadelphia on November 18, 2018 at the age of 88, praying for the Church and the Society of Jesus.