Alumni Profile

John Henry Crosby large

John Henry Crosby

Class of 2000

Majors: Philosophy and History

John Henry Crosby grew up with a passion for Beethoven and Mozart. He studied the violin and intended to give his life to music until, like his father, Franciscan University professor Dr. John Crosby, a passion for philosophy came upon him. In a class at Franciscan, he read Dietrich von Hildebrand’s book, The Heart.

With growing interest, John Henry made his way through the thousands of pieces of von Hildebrand’s thought scattered about in books and in the memories of those who loved him. In von Hildebrand’s life, he saw a living witness to the power of faith and the nobility of truth. And in his work, he saw an understanding of the human person that gave the lie to the great heresies of the twentieth century—communism, Nazism, and post-modernism.

In 2004, John Henry decided to devote himself entirely to preserving von Hildebrand’s work. His dream was to bring back into print all of von Hildebrand’s writings and translate several thousands of pages still not available in English. He enlisted the support of Dietrich’s wife, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, his father, and his lifelong friend, Anthony Gualandri ’03, and the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project was born.

“I am one of those people who is lucky enough to devote myself professionally to the very thing I would do even if I had to pay to do it,” John Henry says. “To immerse myself day-to-day in the thought and witness of one who lived for the good, the true, and the beautiful offers me a powerful sense of purpose and of mission.”

Papal Audience pic
Pope Benedict XVI accepts a new edition of Dietrich von Hildebrand's book, The Heart, from Alice von Hildebrand and John Henry Crosby ’00. (Photo courtesy of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project.)

Other friends, students, and admirers of von Hildebrand soon joined the project’s Advisory Board, which included, until his election to the papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In March 2007, John Henry Crosby and Alice von Hildebrand, in a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, placed the first fruits of their labors into the former Advisory Board member’s hands: a new edition of The Heart. The book was funded by a grant from the Papal Foundation at the urging of the pope himself.

Today, two other books, The Dietrich von Hildebrand Life Guide and The Nature of Love, have been published, and the first English translation of the anti-Nazi essays are near completion. The Legacy Project has also hosted annual conferences on von Hildebrand’s thought since 2007.

“What I am about today would never be possible without my many happy years at Franciscan University, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student,” John Henry says. “I take every possible opportunity to tell people I meet that I am a proud Franciscan alumnus and that my work today is possible because of the wonderful education I received at my alma mater.”

Visit to learn more about Dietrich von Hildebrand and the Legacy Project.

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