David Tracy (1939-) of Yonkers New York and Chicago, Roman Catholic Theologian







David Tracy has taught a wide variety of courses in contemporary theology. He has offered classes in philosophical, systematic, and constructive theology and hermeneutics, and courses dealing with issues and persons in religion and modern thought. His publications include The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism and On Naming the Present: Reflections on God, Hermeneutics, and Church. Professor Tracy is currently


David William Tracy was born in Yonkers, NY on January 6th, 1939, the middle son of John Charles Tracy, a union organizer, and Eileen Marie Tracy (née Rossell). He had an older brother, John Charles Jr., and a younger brother, Arthur. In the New York Times interview in 1968, he stated the following as his motivation for becoming a theologian. ''I always loved cultural criticism, and I received great encouragement from my mother and father. Our home was filled with literary stimulation. My father, [a union organizer], read to us, writers like Dickens and Henry Adams. My parents were always bringing us to visit places like the Adams home near Boston.”


Tracy underwent seminary training in philosophy and theology at St. Joseph’s seminary in Dunwoodie New York after “intensely” feeling called to the priesthood at the age of thirteen (Breyfogle & Levergood, 310). He was ordained a priest in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1963 but went on for further theological study at the Gregorian in Rome, where he received a licentiate in 1964 (in the midst of the second Vatican Council) and a doctorate in 1969, writing his thesis on the work of his teacher, Bernard Lonergan. After teaching briefly at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. from 1967-1969, he moved to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he continues to teach.


In 1968, Tracy was among 22 faculty members, including Father Curran, brought to a two-month trial before the Catholic University senate by that school's president on charges that they had abandoned their Catholicity by dissenting from the theological argument against artificial birth control in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae, issued earlier that year.


Tracy was named Distinguished Service Professor in 1985 and Distinguished Service Professor of Roman Catholic Studies in 1987. He has served on the University’s Committee on the Analysis of Ideas and Methods and on the Committee on Social Thought. He was a fellow, with john Cobb, at John Carroll University in 1976-77, delivering the Tuohy lectures on "the Problem of God." The recipient of several Honorary Doctorate degrees, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1982. "David’s gentle, generous, and humble spirit, his quick and incisive intelligence, and his total devotion to the theological task and the Christian faith (in him, inextricably tied to one another) have deeply touched countless numbers of his students, friends, colleagues, and coreligionists." He was a founding editor of Religious Studies Review, has been a coeditor of the Journal of Religion, and has served on the editorial board of Concilium in addition to contributing to and editing various issues. He is the author of some eight books and numerous articles.


David Tracy has been hailed as one of the most original theologians in recent decades for his work in hermeneutics and theological method in a pluralistic context. His work is distinctive both for its breadth—he integrates insights from modern theology, philosophy, biblical scholarship and literary criticism—and for the critical love he shows for his own Christian tradition, even in the face of what he takes to be the undeniable pluralism of the contemporary intellectual horizon. Although well-known for his debate with George Lindbeck regarding the public character of theology, the density and complexity of Tracy’s thought on hermeneutics and theology has made much of his work inaccessible to many (Sanks, 698). This essay provides an introductory overview to Tracy’s work and highlights some of the salient aspects of his work in theological hermeneutics. It proceeds in four parts. The first offers an overview of his life and work. The second considers important characteristics of his hermeneutical thought. The third considers his emphasis on conversation and his more recent work on naming God. The fourth identifies some implications of his thought and offers a brief evaluation.





A Dissenting Voice: Catholic Theologian David Tracy - 1968


David Tracy on God


David Tracy’s Keynote Address at “Augustine: Theological and Philosophical Conversations" December 2015


The Costan Lecture 2016 - David Tracy


The Plural and Ambiguous Self: The Theological Anthropology of David Tracy. Author: Stephen Okey. Boston College Electronic Thesis or Dissertation, 2013






Family Records


John Tracy, 29, of Boston, labourer, b. 1828 Ireland, first marriage (s. of Denis) married Bridget Donohoe, 26, of Boston, b. 1831 Ireland, first marriage (d. of Patrick) 24 Feb 1857 Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts

John Tracey, b. Ireland, labourer & Bridget Donahoe, b. Ireland

Dennis Tracey b. 12 Aug 1861 Roxbury, Massachusetts d. 6 Sep 1862

John Tracy b. Ireland, labourer & Bridget, b. Ireland

Mary E. Tracy b. 26 Oct 1859 Roxbury, Massachusetts


1860 Census - Ward 3 Roxbury, Norfolk, Massachusetts

John Tracy                   M         34        Ireland

Bridget Tracy F          30        Ireland

Margaret Tracy            F          2          Massachusetts

Mary E Tracy F          0 (8/12)            Massachusetts


1870 Census - Pennsylvania, United States

John Tracy                   M         38        Pennsylvania, Above gr [ground mining] Sacle

Bridget Tracy F          35        Pennsylvania

Maggie Tracy F          12        Pennsylvania

Mary Tracy                  F          11        Pennsylvania

Bridget Tracy F          5          Pennsylvania

Lizzie Tracy                F          3          Pennsylvania


1880 Census - 3 Jefferson St, Yonker, Westchester, New York

John Trasy                   Self                  M         60        Ireland, labourer

Bridget Trasy Wife                F          48        Ireland

Margret Trasy Daughter         F          21        Massachusetts, United States, dressmaker

Mary Trasy                  Daughter         F          19        Massachusetts, United States, works silk mill

Delia Trasy                  Daughter         F          17        New York, United States, works silk mill

Elisabeth Trasy            Daughter         F          13        Pennsylvania, United States

John Trasy                   Son                  M         9          Pennsylvania, United States


1905 Census - 193 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, Westchester, New York

Elizabeth Tracey         Head               F          29y      United States, dressmaker at home

Margret Tracey            Sister               F          32y      United States, dressmaker at home

John Tracey                 Brother            M         27y      United States, electrican

Anna Tracey                Sister-In-Law F          25y      United States

Thelma Tracey             Niece               F          6y        United States

Charles Tracey            Nephew           M         3y        United States

Margaret Tracey          Daughter         F          1y        United States


1910 Census - Broadway, Thompson, Sullivan, New York

John Tracy                   Head               M         38        Pennsylvania, parents born Ireland, electrican

Anna Tracy                 Wife                F          31        New York, parents born Ireland, 13 years married, 3 child 3 alive

Thelma Tracy Daughter         F          11        New York

Charles Tracy Son                  M         8          New York

Margerite Tracy           Daughter         F          6          New York


Monticello [Sullivan, New York] NY Republican Watchman 1918-1919

Miss Thelma Tracey is passing the week-end with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John J. Tracey, on Clinton Avenue.


1920 Census - 193 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers Ward 3, Westchester, New York

Margaret Tracy            Head   F          51        Massachusetts, parents born Ireland, dressmaker

Elizabeth M Tracy       Sister   F          40        New York, parents born Ireland, dressmaker

Thelma Tracy Niece   F          20        New York, parents born NY, bookeeper government


1925 Census - Yonkers Ward 03, A.D. 04, E.D. 01, Westchester, New York

Margaret Tracey, b. 1865, head

Wlizabeth Tracey b. 1882, sister

John Tracey, b. 1884, brother

Anna Tracey, b. 1884, wife

Thelma Tracey, b. 1902, daughter

Margaret Tracey, b. 1906, daughter

Charles Tracey, b. 1904, son


Ellis Island - Fort St. George, Hamilton Bermuda to NY 3rd April 1924

Elizabeth Tracey, Yonkers NY USA, 1924, 40 years, single, b. 1884 Yonkers NY, 193 Warburton Ave Yonkers NY

Margaret Tracey, Yonkers NY USA, 1924, 50 years, single, b. 1874 Yonkers NY, 193 Warburton Ave Yonkers NY

Thelma Tracey, Yonkers NY USA, 1924, 25 years, single, b. 1899 Yonkers NY, lives 193 Warburton Ave Yonkers NY


April 16. 1928 The Yonkers Statesman

John Joseph Tracey

John Joseph Tracey, a resident of Yonkers for many years, died Saturday night at his home, 193 Warburton Avenue, after a lingering illness. He was 57 years old. Born in Tuscarora, Pa,, June 12, 1870, the son of the late John and Bridget Donohue Tracey, Mr. Tracey came to Yonkers 50 years ago and was educated in St. Mary's School In 1896 he married Miss Anna Butler in Yonkers. For a number of years he was an employe of the Otis Elevator Company.

Besides his wife, he s survived by a son, John C. Tracey; two daughters, Miss Marguerite E. and Miss Thelma B. Tracey and three sisters, Miss Elizabeth M. and Miss Margaret E. Tracey, all of Yonkers and Mrs. P. J. Kleley of Philadelphia. A requiem mass will be sung in the Holy Rosary Church Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery.


1930 Census - 106 Valentine Lane, Yonkers, Westchester, New York

Anna B Tracey            Head   F          53        New York, widow 20 years

Thelma B Tracey         Daughter         F          31        New York, parents born Pennsylvania & NY, government clerk US Dpt of Commerce

John C Tracey             Son      M         28        New York, parents born Pennsylvania & NY, salesman sugar


Thelma Butler Tracey, single, 31, b. 1899 Yonkers, N.Y. (d. of John Tracey & Ann Butler) married Arthur Raymond Pearsall, single, 32, b. 1898 Yonkers, N.Y. (s. of Clarence A. Pearsall & Mabel Edith Raymond) 8 Nov 1930 Manhattan, New York, New York, United States


11 Jun 1935 The Herald statesman (Yonkers NY)

Miss Eileen M. Rossell of 98 Ravine Avenue, was honored recently at a miscellaneous shower given for her by Miss Helen Dziuban at her home, 710 Warburton Avenue. There were 20 guests present. Miss Rossell, the daughter of Mrs. David W. Rossell of the Ravine Avenue address, and the late Mr. Rossell. will be married the latter part of this month to J. Charles Tfacy, son of Mrs. John J. Tracy of 30 Locust Hill Avenue, and the late Mr. Tracy.


22 June 1935 The Herald Statesman (Yonkers. NY)

Couple Married At Holy Rosary

Miss Eileen M. Rossell Wed To J. Charles Traey

The Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was the scene of the wedding this m o r n i n g of Miss Eileen M. Rossell of 98 Ravine Avenue to J. Charles Tracy of 30 Locust Hill Avenue. The ceremony took place at 10 o'clock with the Rev Joseph F. Flannelly, assistant pastor of the church officiating. A wedding breakfast for members of the immediate families followed at Green Gables. 32 Linn Avenue.

Miss Rossell, the daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth M. Rossell and the late David W. Rossell. was given in marriage by her brother, Kenneth A. Rossell. She wore a gown of white mousseline de soie made with a ruflled cape, and a white horsehair picture hat. Her bridal bouquet was of roses and lilies-of-the valley

Mrs. Arthur D. Rossell. sister of ihe bridegroom, was matron of honor and Mr. Rossell, brother of the bride, the best man. The former was attired in yellow mousseline desoie with matching horsehair picture hat. Her bouquet was African daisies and delphinium.

The bride's mother wore navy blue printed chidon with white hat and accessories and an old fashionrd corsage. Mrs. Anna Tracy, mother of the bridegroom, was dressed in navy blue crepe with accessories of the same shade. Her corsage was also of old fashioned flowers.

The bride is a native of Newark. N. J., and a Graduate of School Six and the Yonkers High School of Commerce.

Mr. Tracy, son of the late John J Tracy, was born in Yonkers and attended schools in Monticello, Ny and New York University. He iS associated in business in this city.

The couple plan to make their home at 476 Warburton Avenue upon their return from a two-week honeymoon in Atlantic City.


1940 Census - 476 Warburton Avenue, Ward 3, Yonkers, Yonkers City, Westchester, New York

John C Tracy   Head   M         38        New York, clerk city

Eileen Tracy    Wife    F          33        New York

John C Tracy   Son      M         4          New York

David Tracy    Son      M         1          New York

Elizabeth Rossell         Mother-in-law             F          62        England


18 Jan 1952 The Herald statesman (Yonkers NY)

TRACY—John Charles, on January 17 1952. beloved husband of Eileen Rossell Resting at Havey's Funeral Home, 107 North Broadway. Mass of Requim at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Saturday. January 19th at 10 A M. Interment. st. Marys cemetery.





The Journal News on Aug. 8, 2004

Eileen Marie Couch (nee Rossell), age 98, formerly of Yonkers, NY, passed away peacefully at home on August 4. She was a longtime resident of Chicago. Loving mother of David, Arthur and the late John Tracy; proud grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of seven; fond aunt of Jack Rossell; the late Bill Rossell; Martha and Ann; great-aunt of many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by her brothers: Kenneth and Arthur. She will be dearly missed by all who loved and cherished her. Visitation will be at the Sisto Funeral Home, 3489 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx 8:00-9:30 am Monday. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, 10:00 am, Saint Mary's Church, Yonkers. Interment Saint Mary's Cemetery, Yonkers.




Last update: 01 June 2017