Dr. David A. Sánchez, an associate professor of Early Christianity and Christian Origins at LMU, died of an apparent heart attack while hiking in Eaton Canyon on April 6.
“David was a valued colleague, but also a dear friend. One of the warmest human beings I have ever known. Smart and perceptive. A fine scholar, a teacher deeply dedicated to his students, a beautiful person,” said Dr. Douglas Christie, chair of the department of theological studies.
Dr. Daniel Smith-Christopher, a professor of theological studies, said, “David will be remembered as a creative mind, a kind spirit and a wonderful colleague. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues at LMU.”
Sánchez began working as a professor in the theological studies department in August 2005.
“He was an amazing person who always saw the good in people and situations,” said Sam Wanket, a junior marketing major. “He was always a bright and smiling person, even for our early morning classes.”
“Theology and the study of theology, for David, [was] all about learning to see the world more clearly and deeply, and learning to think critically about the ethical questions at the heart of faith,” said Christie. “He wanted to understand what the murals said about politics, culture, religion, the possibilities for peace. And he invited his students into this work too.”
In addition to being a professor, Sánchez was an renowned scholar. He held a doctorate in philosophy from Union Theological Seminary and was the Book Review Editor of “The Journal of the American Academy of Religion.” He was also the President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS).
Ramon Luzarraga, division chair of undergraduate studies and assistant professor of theology at Benedictine University Mesa, met Sánchez through ACHTUS. “He was a good man who was strong and highly principled, and had a capacity to truly dialogue and empathize with persons from different backgrounds and with different views,” Luzarraga said on Facebook.
Sánchez wrote in abundance about Catholicism. From his award-winning book “From Patmos to the Barrio: Subverting Imperial Myths,” to his articles as a Huffington Post contributor, Sánchez proved that he had a strong, unique and extensive understanding of the Bible and its relation to history.
“David was recently exploring Irish Studies in addition to his New Testament work,” said Smith-Christopher. “We will sadly not fully benefit now from the intellectual journey he was making.”
“I was lucky enough to experience Ireland with him for our spring break … he honestly made my experience with the amount of passion he had,” said Wanket.
He was also an avid sports fan. “He would engage anyone and everyone about his passion for sports. It was always immensely enjoyable to do so,” said Christie.
This love of sports showed itself during LMU’s Casa de la Mateada program in Córdoba, Argentina. Christie said that Sánchez, who attended the program, joined a game of soccer with local children.
He “participated with all the fierce competitiveness for which he is known — but which he usually saves for the golf course,” said Christie. “That was David: full of life and joy, quick with a smile and a quip, always ready to take up a challenge.”