Friday 19 July 2013

Bosco Pereira, SDB

When I heard the news this morning that Bosco had died, I felt a sense of disbelief. And then also the news, so sudden, so dramatic, of Bosco Pereira: he's dead. It is difficult to believe that 'BP' is no more. With his sharp wit and his strong character, it looked like he would be around forever. But no. He is gone. RIP. Into the heaven which perhaps he did not quite know how to think about, into that heaven of freedom he has gone.

When I think of Bosco, of course I think of my eventful one year of practical training with him in Bosco Boys Home. I would like to remember Bosco today as someone who cared deeply for the boys, and whose caring expressed itself in a very original and creative way. Certainly the boys knew that they were loved. Certainly the practice of joining them for some of their meals was one way of showing that. Then there was the idea of sending some of them to the local Municipal School: I remember with pride, and Bosco was of course very proud, of the fact that many of them did not only well but very well in that school, with one of them even standing first in the whole of the city. But in those days we had boys of all ages in BBH, and not all of them went to a formal school. Many of them were in the Workshops, and to supplement their technical education we would regularly raid the German and other Embassies for their super-8 format documentary films. How long ago all that now seems, with video and then DVD and all that. It was sometimes difficult to explain to our 'main house' across the road that, far from pampering our boys and spoiling them, we were attempting to educate them, expand their fragile minds, nourish their imagination.

Already in those years - the early 1980s - I remember that Bosco had been told by his doctors that his legs would be able to bear his body weight for perhaps another two years. It was an extraordinary blessing and a great credit to Bosco's determination that he was able to continue with a rather active life and ministry for a full 30 years.

Bosco's sharpness and wit often made people forget that at the bottom of it all he was a person who carried a rather heavy cross. I tend to think that this was the X factor that he tried to handle in a thousand different ways, not all of them always the tried and the tested and the 'faithfull'. But I think God understands us better than we understand ourselves. And I think my little reflection of this morning fits in very well here, as I am reflecting on the life of Bosco. Let me therefore add it on:

"This morning in chapel I saw a young brother offering a 'foot mat' to mother and to the others. Very thoughtful, really. And I thought to myself: perhaps this young brother might not make it to the perpetual profession. Perhaps he might never become a Salesian priest. And yet this act of thoughtfulness and kindness will remain what it is forever: a beautiful and noble act. And again I thought: is not life composed of such little acts, often so unconnected among themselves, rarely working themselves out into the tapestry of an entire life? And: is not, would not, God be content with every little flower, every green leaf, every act of love?

And then the same with the singing of My Jesus, My Saviour: beautiful, extraordinary, lovely, even if Dominic missed a beat. What a lovely song, and how lovely to sing it well, to hear it sung well. An act of sheer praise. A moment of music. Perhaps in the end only aesthetic, but is that it? Does it not soar above individual intentions and will into the truly religious? And, once again, is this also not a deeply spiritual moment, an 'experience'? I think it is.

I was thinking later of Lonergan and what he and Thomas say about God's wisdom: that it is not piecemeal. And yet eternity is also often captured, and refracted, in a moment, in a dewdrop, in the song of a bird."

Bosco's life, our lives - little bits of speckled eternity in a dew drop.

God be blessed.

Eternity in a dewdrop

This morning in chapel I saw a young brother offering a 'foot mat' to mother and to the others. Very thoughtful, really. And I thought to myself: perhaps this young brother might not make it to the perpetual profession. Perhaps he might never become a Salesian priest. And yet this act of thoughtfulness and kindness will remain what it is forever: a beautiful and noble act. And again I thought: is not life composed of such little acts, often so unconnected among themselves, rarely working themselves out into the tapestry of an entire life? And: is not, would not, God be content with every little flower, every green leaf, every act of love?

And then the same with the singing of My Jesus, My Saviour: beautiful, extraordinary, lovely, even if Dominic missed a beat. What a lovely song, and how lovely to sing it well, to hear it sung well. An act of sheer praise. A moment of music. Perhaps in the end only aesthetic, but is that it? Does it not soar above individual intentions and will into the truly religious? And, once again, is this also not a deeply spiritual moment, an 'experience'? I think it is.

I was thinking later of Lonergan and what he and Thomas say about God's wisdom: that it is not piecemeal. And yet eternity is also often captured, and refracted, in a moment, in a dewdrop, in the song of a bird.

And then also the news, so sudden, so dramatic, of Bosco Pereira: he's dead. Difficult to believe that BP is no more. With his sharpness and his strong character, it looked like he would be around forever. But no. He is gone. RIP. Into the heaven which perhaps he did not quite know how to think about, into that heaven of freedom he has gone. 

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Ron Schoeffel of the University of Toronto Press

Ron Schoeffel, who was 'my editor' at the University of Toronto Press, and who was enormously helpful to me in the whole process of getting Hermeneutics and Method published, passed away a few days ago. Here is a tribute to him from the U of T Press notice that I received a few minutes ago. I pray for Ron and thank God for him: he was truly a wonderful human being, and Lonergan, Lonergan studies, and many Lonergan scholars have been fortunate to have someone like him.

When I first dared to send my MS to the U of T Press, it was Ron who replied. He was, if I remember right, in the midst of jury duty. He wrote a very encouraging letter. Eventually the two referees disagreed, and so he set a third, who happened to be enthusiastic, and so Hermeneutics and Method was eventually published. In later years, I dropped in twice or thrice when I happened to be in the city, usually without notice, and Ron was unfailingly gracious and welcoming. The last time was when he was already in retirement, and working part time for the Press. And then of course he kept setting 'little assignments' for me, which were certainly acknowledgements, and which I am glad I was able to do. Ron was an Editor who brought something extra to his job, and that made him a very special human being. He brought a human touch to his job. 

Here is the tribute:
It is with deep sadness that we write to tell you that our long-time friend and colleague, Ron Schoeffel, has passed away. We were contacted by his son with the news that Ron had died suddenly of natural causes over the weekend.
Ron Schoeffel joined the Editorial Department of UTP in 1963 and made innumerable noteworthy contributions over the course of his 50-year career with us.

He founded the Collected Works of Erasmus project in 1968 and published the first volume in 1974. He officially retired from UTP in 2001, and was recognized at that time with the presentation of an honorary degree from St. Michael's University. He continued to work part time with us on this and other projects that were dear to his heart. He brought us a wealth of knowledge and good judgment. He was a highly regarded mentor to many developing scholars and editors over the years, a shining example of passion and commitment to scholarship, and a respected and much-loved member of our team. He will be sorely missed.
And yet another:
IN MEMORIAM
Ron Schoeffel
January 25, 1936-July 4, 2013
The Canadian Scholarly Publishing industry has lost one of its guiding lights, Ronald Schoeffel. A true gentleman and scholar, Ron died unexpected of a heart attack on July 4th in his Toronto home.
Ron received a PhD from University of Toronto and joined the Editorial Department at University of Toronto Press in 1963. He made innumerable contributions over the course of his 50-year career at UTP. Most notably, Ron founded the Collected Works of Erasmus project in 1968 and published the first volume in 1974. Installments in the series will continue to appear from UTP for the next decade or so.
A project spanning close to fifty years is a rare phenomenon within any industry and virtually unheard of within book publishing. And it is a testament to Ron’s passion, vision and commitment to academic research that what he called his “life’s work,” Erasmus, will ultimately consist of eighty-nine volumes.
Ron officially retired from UTP in 2001, and was recognized at that time with the presentation of an honourary degree from St. Michael's University. He continued to work part time at UTP on Erasmus and other projects that were dear to his heart, such as The Collected Works of Northrop Frye, and The Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan.
“Ron brought us a wealth of knowledge and good judgement, and was a highly regarded mentor to many developing scholars and editors over the years, a shining example of passion and commitment to scholarship, and a respected and much loved member of our team,” said John Yates, UTP’s Chief Executive Officer. “He will be sorely missed.”

Sunday 7 July 2013

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary

“EVANGELIZATION – DOES IT CALL FOR SOMETHING NEW FROM CONSECRATED LIFE?” MARKO RUPNIK, SJ “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novit...