In Memoriam: Fr. James McConica, CSB
Speaking for the entire Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies community, I would like to express our sadness at the passing of our past Praeses, Fr. James McConica, CSB. He died on December 20, after a period of declining health. I only had the opportunity of meeting Fr. McConica once. But I very much enjoyed talking with him and, even in his nineties, his sharp intellect and wide culture were obvious. My predecessor, Dr. Richard Alway, spoke often of Fr. McConica, and did so with affection and respect. Our more senior fellows certainly remember him well.
Fr. McConica served as the Praeses of PIMS from 1996 to 2008, a difficult period of transition. He brought to that task wide experience and learning, having been the President of St. Michael’s College from 1984 to 1990. But his association with PIMS dated well before that. He was a junior fellow of the Institute from 1967 and then a senior fellow until 1991, at which time he went to do research and study at Oxford University.
Fr. McConica was also a distinguished scholar with wide-ranging publications on Erasmus (whose works he co-edited), Thomas More, and the Northern Humanists, as well as intellectual history and historical theology generally. Fr. McConica was the first Catholic priest to become a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, since the reformation. Among his many honors and appointments, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada. He also dedicated his talents to service of the Church, in particular as a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. For me to think about the extraordinary life of this former Praeses is a truly humbling experience. May he rest in peace.
There will be a concelebrated Funeral Mass for Fr. McConica at 10:30 a.m. Friday, December 29, in the chapel of Presentation Manor for Seniors, 61 Fairfax Crescent in Scarborough, ON. Burial will follow at the Basilian plot at Holy Cross Cemetery, Thornhill, ON. Should you wish to make an offering in his memory, contributions can be made to the Basilian Fathers Retirement Fund, 360 Davenport Road, Toronto, ON M5R 1K6.
Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., Praeses