Victoria Park, Vancouver, Canada
July 28, 2020
September 24, 2020
“Never greet a person with ‘How are you?’ unless you are prepared to spend the necessary time with them should they choose to be honest with their answer.” Phil offered this advice to a group of undergrad students having the audacity to sit in a class entitled, “Does God Exist?” I was one of those students and I carry those words with me every day and they have served me well as an ordained minister in The United Church of Canada.
When I learned of this page of tributes I knew that I had to share a few memories of Dr. Phil McShane and the gift he was to me and the influence he had in my becoming the person I am.
I was blessed to find myself at Mount St. Vincent University during Phil’s tenure there and to have taken my first philosophy class with him, after which I was hooked. It was Phil’s very unique approach to not only teaching but, the offering of both knowledge and wisdom and, the way he drew both out of you, that led me to pursue a double major, Religious Studies and PHILosophy.
So, a couple of stories . . . It was in that first class when Phil handed out the “Required Reading” list that I knew I was in for quite a ride. The list was three pages long and included the Lonergan library, including Insight and Method in Theology. Then he released us with an invitation to look at the list before returning to class on Thursday. Well, needless to say, on Thursday the class was halved in size and Phil informed us that yes, this was indeed the reading list but, if we could demonstrate that we . . . understood just one page we would pass the class. Then, Phil asked us to do something we were to take a half hour and write about spaghetti. It seemed odd but we did it and after the half hour Phil had each of us share what we had written. Needless to say, no two people wrote the same thing. Some wrote about sauces, others about texture, others about the ingredients used to make pasta, etc. Phil then challenged us, “I asked you to write about spaghetti, a mundane topic if ever there was one, yet none of you have agreed on the content of what you have written. What then makes you think that you will ever find agreement, or even a definitive answer regarding the question of this course?”
I will always be grateful to Phil for introducing me to Lonergan. I continue to refer back to “Method” frequently as I engage in life’s discernments. But, I remember him telling me, upon my graduation and knowing that I was going on to pursue a Master’s degree, that it would be a mistake to focus on Lonergan or to try to use his work in any kind of meaningful way because it would not be well received. So, taking his advice to heart, I talked to my academic advisor about my thesis with the working title, “Religious Studies: A Discipline in Search of a Method” and Lonergan had a prominent place on my reading list. My advisor called me into the office and asked me if I intended to read Insight, since it was on my list. When I told him I had read it during my undergrad he was quite incredulous, admitting that he had never been able to get past page 20.
Last story. After my undergrad I moved to Montreal with my wife and two children but, we returned to The Maritimes occasionally. On one such trip we stopped into Phil and Sally’s when they were living in Riverside-Albert, NB. When we got to the house they weren’t home, Sally was at a Church-y meeting and Phil was with her. But there was an open bottle of wine, a lovely welcoming note and encouragement to eat. The next day we were heading out for a walk on the floor of The Bay of Fundy but the temperature had dipped and I was ill-prepared so Phil “lent’ me a sweater. We walked out into the bay and talked about the ebb and flow of life watching Sally and my wife playing with our kids a little ways off. When we left Phil insisted that I take the sweater with me. That was 24 years ago and when I heard that Phil was not well I asked Sally to tell him that I still have that sweater. It has since been converted into a cushion but, it sits against the arm of my sofa and offers me a place to lay my head and a gentle reminder of Phil’s ongoing presence and influence in my life.
September 16, 2020
This is very sad to lose an icon like Phil in helping us all to understand Lonergan and his continuing significance. Without Phil’s writings, encouragement and advice I wouldn’t have gotten very far with starting to learn Lonergan’s economics in the mid-1990’s.
September 15, 2020
Phil took me on as a work in progress some years ago. He’d send me infuriatingly complicated puzzles to work out. He would encourage, probe, and gently chide. He encouraged me to visit, attend a conference, write a book—one for 2020 with 2020 vision. He would set me passages to read in Lonergan and report back on my understanding of my understanding. His comments ranged from ‘this won’t do at all’ to ‘marvelously outstanding’ when I completed my Meaning Map even if my references to the Stoics on prosochē and to Frankl too would have to be dropped! He was always a purist and a painstaking scholar. He liked to call me Step-hen and referenced a dynasty. I worked hard and insights slowly came. Each ‘aha’ moment brought joy and an eagerness to show off. He kept me on track, kept me going. We both enjoyed our puns and poetry and tried to outdo each other. He always won! And now no more ‘Phil McShane’ emails on a computer screen, no late night communications. I suspect Lonergan’s not getting a word in! May he rise in glory and rest in peace, my mentor, my mate.
—Stephen J. Costello, Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland
September 13, 2020
I am sorry to hear of Phil’s death and Sally’s loss. I first stumbled on Lonergan in 1982. I came across Lonergan’s Insight in the bookshop outside Campion Hall, Oxford. It looked intriguing but expensive. So I bought instead McShane’s introduction with just the three essays, “Cognitional Structure” and two more from CWL 4. Somehow Phil’s voice carried over: “What is Lonergan getting at? He’s getting at you!”
So I went back the next week and bought Insight after all, and spent the Summer wracking my brains (Well, the next 40 years if truth be told) wondering just what exactly Lonergan was getting at.
September 11, 2020
I first met Phil as a newly minted Ph.D. out of graduate school. I had just gotten a teaching position in the competitive cut-throat world of teaching. I was preparing to write a book on Bernard Lonergan’s contribution to Catholic intellectual tradition. My research was to take me to the Lonergan Center at Boston College. It coincided with the annual Lonergan Workshop in the summer of that year. I contacted the then Director of the Lonergan Center at Boston College, Ms. Kerry Cronin, and told her about my plans to use the Lonergan archives. She obliged and promised me an uninhibited access to the archive. Upon arrival I attended the Workshop and visited the Lonergan Center. I waited impatiently for Ms. Cronin to lead me to the archives. I asked, “Please where are the archives?” Ms. Cronin looked at me, and not knowing how to express it to me in a language that would touch my soul, pointed to a group of people that included Pat Byrne, Frederick Lawrence, Robert Doran, John Dadosky, and Phil McShane and said to me, “There are your archives.” After a moment of reflection, I got the point. That was an act of insight! The Lonergan archives is not on a shelf stored away somewhere in a corner. It is a living archive embodied in these faithful collaborators that Ms. Cronin pointed me to and of which Phil is a preeminent member.
Anyone who knows Phil knows he is a walking Lonergan archive. When I met him, it did not take me long to appreciate the act of insight Ms. Cronin had given me. Phil helped guide my project in a way I could not have imagined. That was the beginning of a long friendship that helped me in my formative years as an aspiring scholar. There is a wide range of opinions regarding Phil—a scholar, a genius, an archive, and an icon. What I find remarkable about Phil is not just that he’s a scholar, a genius, an archive, an icon and much more. Phil actually does not care about such adulations. What I find remarkable about Phil is that he is a gentleman (in the British sense of the term). In an academic world filled with mimetic people whose motivations are often to pull competitors down, a tempting Kool-Aid many drink from years of studying for their PhD (Pull Him Down syndrome) degree, Phil is always motivated by the desire to pull people up. He pulled me up and that is one of the reasons why I am where I am today. He pulled up many young and aspiring scholars. He taught us the true meaning of scholarship. The way he lived his life has taught us that in the end what counts is not measured by your level of scholarship, but whether you are a gentleman (gentle woman). May Phil, the scholar, genius, icon, archive, and gentleman, rest in paradise with Bernard Lonergan, Abraham, Jesus, the saints, and our African ancestors. For the many Africans you helped, you are now an honorable African elder. We will miss you, but Africans never forget their own.
—Prof. Cyril Orji, University of Dayton, OH
August 15, 2020
Greetings! I have been quite shocked to hear that Phil passed away. I am very sorry not to have a final meeting with him in this earth. I do wish that Sally and his favorite community would be well in this sad times. I do hope that after COVID-19, we could have some time to remember him and his vision in Asia or other places.
Please take care in this unprecedented times!
—Chae Young Kim (South Korea)
August 14, 2020
Thank you for the email a few weeks ago about Philip McShane. I only knew him from some of his writings. I fully read and analyzed his D.Phil. thesis Randomness, Statistics and Emergence which was a great piece of work. I read other articles by him which all conveyed a brilliant but not easy to discern intellect (I am thinking of Plants and Pianos). I know that he was rated second only to Lochlainn O’Raifeartaigh (Senior Prof. at DIAS [Dublin Institute of Advanced Physics, set up by President de Valera in the early 1940s]) at the UCD Math/Math-Physics dept., when I was at UCD. I suppose when I think about it, I share two things in common with him: I too graduated from the UCD Mathematical Science program like McShane and also was very influenced by Lonergan. However, we never met. Most of what I know about him comes from you. On reading the obituary and some of the updates from Sally (was that his wife?), he also seemed to have a good Irish sense of humor. My sense would be that he had a brilliant mind but had difficulties communicating with lesser mortals. Perhaps, now in the next life he will be truly at home and not so much alone.
August 14, 2020
Thanks Brendan for letting me know. Phil McShane was my gateway into philosophy, and Joe’s too. We owe him a lot. May the Lord welcome him.
August 14, 2020
Way back in the last millennium, when I was a late-teenager, I remember during Christian Doctrine class asking several of the teachers who took the class what on earth we meant when we said, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” I didn’t know what I meant. I know God was, but … On one occasion, I got smart-alecky and was sent out to help dig the foundations for the run up to the pole vault!
Then we met a cousin of one of our gang who was a Jesuit and met him and ran the same aggressive, ill-mannered barrage of inquiry past, or over, him. He was absolutely unfazed to my surprise, and handed me over to a fellow-Jesuit, a sociologist, and he in turn handed me over to an artistic and philosophical Jesuit also in the House.
He ‘got’ what was churning up my head and made two major contributions to putting me on the right track – in religious terms he said simply said, “Start praying the Psalms”, and in philosophical terms he said read Martin Buber’s “I and Thou”.
But I was still all over the place with not the slightest notion of what was missing, what was disorienting me.
Unfazed, he brought me upstairs to meet someone else. He knocked on the door and I was let in – he introduced me to Philip McShane and left. Philip McShane, I’d been told, was a philosopher, working on the philosophical foundations of theology. I hadn’t the slightest idea what to expect.
I hit him with my challenge – what on earth could we mean by saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”? He met my eyes and said, “I’m in the middle of writing a book for people with that very question, I’ll send you a copy when it’s printed.” Then he added, “There’s nothing in the world more important to me, that means more to me, than sitting here in my room with my three best friends, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
I went away with that sentence ringing in my memory. If there is any moment in my life that my soul has turned on, I’d say it was that moment. The little booklet arrived – “Music that is soundless,” and I read it, and from that day to this, the notes of that silent music have become my heart’s inmost pulse.
I am writing this post to say THANK YOU to Phil McShane, who has just left here for There.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. [Gaelic for: At the right hand of God may abide his beloved soul]
August 14, 2020
Hi Sally, my two best friends in Ireland are Joe McCarroll and David Walsh. Joe was interested in only one thing, the truth, so landed a lifetime job as school attendance officer, which gave him paid school holidays in which years ago he topped up his BA and MA with a PhD in Belfast’s Queens University on Lonergan’s understanding of providence. Like my other best pal, David Walsh, I got to know them when I was starting to teach at UCD way back in the late 60s. David has been for years professor of politics at Catholic Uni of America in Washington DC. Both of them were started on their lifetime of philosophy by Phil, who was at that time the major influence on their lives. My first meeting with Phil—possibly pushed to do so by them, as they were students of mine at the time, was calling into his room at Milltown and being amazed, when I asked him some questions, at his generosity—he tore out a chapter of something he was working on and gave it to me there and then. Apart from anything intellectual, that massive generosity, where Phil always gave everything of himself, is how Phil has entered into all of our lives, the lucky (or maybe providential) ones who got to know him, especially at our times of greatest need.
Here’s what Joe and David sent me over the last few days when they heard the sad news. Thinking of you and Phil every day in love and prayer,
August 1, 2020
I met Philip McShane when I was a student. He was the instructor for a summer course in Lonergan Studies, at Concordia University, in Montreal. I enjoyed his teaching. He was charming, challenging, and inspiring. As I grew older, we became friends. My degrees were in mathematics. Inspired by Lonergan’s work, I gradually took up foundational issues, including in the sciences. Whenever I had questions, Phil got back to me without delay, always kind and helpful. He often spoke of growth, his own, and ours. It seems to me that Phil never stopped growing. And, I do not doubt that he lives “Now” in “Ongoing Surprise.” Thank you, Phil, for your constancy, and your lifelong efforts to teach us about growth.
July 21, 2020
I first heard of Phil McShane through my husband, John Ronayne, who had been in the same class at a school run by the Christian Brothers in Dublin, where the teaching of all subjects was done through the medium of Gaelic. At that time Phil was not a particular friend of John’s, but in meeting other school friends later, I soon learned that Phil was much admired and they were even a little awestruck by the pranks he used to play on his fellows and the arguments he had with the teachers, something his classmates would never dare to even contemplate. The education was very uninspired (according to Phil ‘a disgrace’) and for someone with Phil’s ability and imagination, extremely boring, so he enlivened the hours with his antics and, being invariably top of the class in all subjects, he managed to get away with most of them!
I met Phil for the first time at Rathfarnham, where he was studying to become a Jesuit. I was newly married to John, and I have to admit I found him somewhat intimidating. He breezed into the room and, straight after the introduction, asked me whether I would like him to hear my confession. Having never met a Jesuit before, I had no idea how to take this, whether he was being serious or not, thinking this was hardly something someone in a religious order would joke about!
In later years, when we saw quite a lot of several school friends who had also decided to make their home in London, I was struck by the fact that every time we met, during the course of an evening’s reminiscing, one or other of them would say “I wonder what ever happened to Phil McShane!” After some thirty years or more, former school friend and fellow Jesuit, John Looby, told us that Phil was in Nova Scotia, having followed his mentor Bernard Lonergan to Canada, and was now lecturing in maths and the philosophy of education, as well as discussing Lonergan’s master work ‘Insight’, a study of human understanding, in universities and seminars worldwide.
John got in touch with Phil, sending him a postcard portrait of James Joyce, a writer they both admired. From then on the real friendship began, but meetings were rare and difficult to arrange. John was a professional violinist, frequently on international orchestral tours, and Phil was also away a great deal, delivering lectures both at home and abroad.
I met Phil on three occasions, twice in Dublin and once in London, where he came to stay the night. As I am a concert pianist, Phil asked me to play to him, after which he admitted to me that during his adolescence, he had harboured dreams of becoming a professional pianist himself.
After John died in 2009, Phil did a great deal to support me through this traumatic time. He sent me emails and even phoned me from Vancouver. For the next 11 years we corresponded frequently and he continued to ring at regular intervals. Our last correspondence was on June 6, before his illness took over, and he left us very soon afterwards. Phil possessed a truly original mind and I feel greatly privileged to have known him. On the basis of a very flimsy initial acquaintanceship we became close friends and I will be forever grateful for this and will miss him very much.
July 14, 2020
Today, as I sat in chapel here in the hills of Camaldoli, Italy, I could not help remembering my first meeting with you and Phil, in our shared apartment accommodation at BC, I think it was the Lonergan Workshop of 1992. I was up in the morning praying the breviary, and Phil comes along with something of Lonergan that he was reading, and I could not recognize it. In those student days, I prided myself on knowing every book of Lonergan’s. It happened to be half of Insight. Phil teased me about the breviary, and I on my part felt a pang of envy: how wonderful to be able to read Insight early in the morning! I think that’s something I would still like to do.
We remembered Phil at Compline, which I happened to be leading. And I think tomorrow I will allow myself to say something about Phil to my colleagues in the General Council of the Salesians. It might mean nothing to them, but who else do you talk to about your friends if not to your family?
July 13, 2020
Our most recent e-mail exchanges were in late January, a propos of Mike Shute’s recent passing. In his final message, Phil mentioned (laughingly) that the day before he had had strained his back by carrying too-heavy bag of groceries. I’m now guessing that in reality something far more serious was beginning to show itself.
My immediate reaction upon reading your message was one of shocked sadness—for Phil, for you, and for myself and the many others who deeply value Phil as a dear friend.
But as I begin adjusting to the news, that sadness is shifting to a deeper joy. Phil has had a life that is not only marvelous but also unique—indeed, uniquely unique! We all understand what that means, so I won’t even try to provide illustrations here! But I’m already chuckling as I begin recalling some of my own many interactions with him, beginning the first time I met him—a purple-socked leprechaun bubbling with both theoretical brilliance and out-of-sight humor, at the 1969 Lonergan lectures at Regis College when it was still in Willowdale.
Please tell Phil of my deep gratitude to him for many things, not least his solidly supportive friendship to me for more than half a century!
July 13, 2020
I want to tell you how much you have given me in my life and I want to thank you.
Your introduction to Lonergan was, for me, life-changing. His work has indeed been worth a life. As a member of the, still unfortunately small, community of Lonergan scholars I have consistently tried to measure up to the standards that you and your finest colleagues have set. I am not able to do this consistently, but I work at it.
Most important has been your introduction to emergent probability. I have discovered that most Lonergan scholars have a rather limited understanding of this most-important feature of his work. Your book, Randomness Statistics and Emergence, will remain as relevant in one hundred years as it is now – likely longer.
Another gift to thank you for is the counsel to think longer-term, in terms of centuries rather than years or even decades. I do believe I have given my life (and continue to do so) for the benefit of a human community centuries from now.
You have always emphasized the importance of functional specialization. I have discovered that the “functional specialty” that I am habitually inclined towards has been “communications,” particularly communication of foundations. My work these past years has been devoted to developing concrete workable training programs to help people “gain entry” into the basic insights and strategies for “doing” self-appropriation. I have discovered that this remains the stumbling block that is most troublesome. I have patterned my methods after the methods and practice of learning to play the violin (which I did learn to play). I find this is a good approach. I am having some success. But progress is slow.
The most important gift you have given me has been stressing the importance of “doing” self-appropriation rather than simply reading about it or talking about it. It is sooooooo important.
So “thank you” dear Phil. I am looking forward to seeing you “on the other side.” Hopefully, I’ll be granted a few more years “on this side” before this happens. But then, who knows!
July 10, 2020
When I think of Phil, I think of Generosity: toward me, toward any questioner, toward the world by working so diligently and intelligently for Cosmopolis. I also think, «a real Irishman.» Sometimes he likes to «out-Joyce» Joyce. And also, how impoverished we would all be had Phil not labored long and with little appreciation to make available so much of Bernie’s work.
July 9, 2020
I met Dr Philip McShane when I was a student at Mount Saint Vincent University. I was deeply touched by his presence the moment I met him. He was my faculty advisor and my philosophy professor and I called him Dr McShane. He insisted that I call him Phil.
I, however, was never able to do that, and Dr McPhil quickly realized that he would have to accept that I call him Dr McPhil.
When discerning a call to ministry he told me that if I was waiting for a letter from God it was never going to come! If I was going to take the plunge I simply needed to do it.
Not only was Dr. McPhil important to me but indeed he was important to my whole family. Everyone in my family knew him and loved him.
My children and I were very blessed to have visited Vancouver and share in a special and blessed time with Dr McPhil and Sally. When leaving to return to Nova Scotia, I said I love you Dr McPhil and he responded Dr McPhil loves you too Natalie. I will forever embrace and remember that moment as well as so many special moments and memories that I have of this truly incredible and special man.
He mentored me, taught me, shepherded me and I will always be so very grateful. I love you Dr McPhil with all my heart.
—Natalie Buchanan Rutherford
July 7, 2020
I met Phil as a teenager while he was using my family’s print shop to print one of his books. At the time, I was taking advanced math in high school but feeling disillusioned with the state of education. Phil took an interest in me because of this and began to mentor me in math, philosophy, and economics. He is one of the first people I ever learned philosophy from, and would end up inspiring me to complete philosophy and political theory degrees later on.
As a teenager, I felt deeply frustrated with my surroundings. Things never seemed to fit, and my frustrations were often met with dismissal. Phil was one of the only people I felt truly took everything I said seriously and to heart. He guided me into turning my frustrations into coherent theory, and inspired me to remain passionate about education while still maintaining healthy skepticism.
Phil used to tell me to email him “when I needed to scream.” He was someone I could always be myself around, even when I was angsty, anxious, or depressed. He was a friend, mentor, professor, and family member to me all at once. There are things I talked about with Phil that I couldn’t talk to about with anyone else; he just understood. When I would have “a ha!” moments, when I felt hopeless, and when I felt excited, Phil would be the perfect person to turn to. We stayed in touch even when I moved away for university, and Phil kept supporting me as I ventured off to grad school and kept trying to find myself. He encouraged me to never settle for academic orthodoxy and keep learning about and developing myself uniquely. Phil encouraged me to grow into myself.
We have truly lost someone special and great. I would not be who I am today if it were not for Phil, and even though he led a long and brilliant life, I feel like we lost him too soon. Rest in peace, Phil, and I hope you’re having a great time singing with the Dubliners and hanging out with Jesus.
July 7, 2020
Phil was so dear to me. He was my mentor, but more. He was family. Phil was able to draw people close and teach in a way that woke up the spirit, that brought us all alive in his energy and his vision. He would send me little notes on Bloomsday. He would share what he’s been working on, just since 4 am. He would talk about the grand strides he’d made in his own thinking, just in a day or two. He was so beyond us all, but he wanted to bring everyone with him. And we wanted to be there. If I could just sit and listen to him again. I miss you, my dear friend.
July 7, 2020
Murió Phil McShane. Quise escribir una nota mencionando algunos aspectos de su formación, su inteligencia, su humor, su ser anti-establishment, su continuo exigirse y exigirnos no condenarnos a ser inferiores a nosotros mismos, pero me resultó imposible. Nadie como él. Tal vez el mejor conocedor de la obra de Lonergan, y sin duda el que más impulso dio a estudiar el pensamiento económico de Lonergan, y sobre todo a la necesidad de implementar las especialidades funcionales, y abandonar mucho de nuestro inhumano confort academicista. (Phil tuvo la formación humanista clásica de la Compañía de Jesús, pero también una maestría en física en la que estudio mecánica cuántica, y un doctorado en filosofía por la universidad de Oxford.)
Él impartió la conferencia magistral en el primer taller latinoamericano de Lonergan. Nos deja una vasta obra. James Duffy y Pacho Sierra tradujeron algunas de sus obras al español.
(Phil McShane died. I wanted to write a note mentioning some parts of his formation, his intelligence, his sense of humor, his anti-establishment stance, his endless self-exigence and insistence that we not to be less than we are, but it was impossible. No one like him. Perhaps the best commentator on the works of Lonergan, and without a doubt the leader in promoting the economic thought of Lonergan, and above all the need to implement the functional specialties and leave behind much of our mediocre academic comfort. [Phil had a classical humanist formation in the Jesuits, but he also did a M.Sc. in physics and quantum mechanics, and a D.Phil. in philosophy of science at the University of Oxford.]
He gave the keynote address at the first Latin-American Lonergan workshop. He leaves us a vast work. James Duffy and Francisco Sierra translated some of his works into Spanish.)
—Francisco “Paco” Galán
July 7, 2020
Phil and I first met at Santa Clara in 1984. During later conferences at Boston College, St. Mary’s in Halifax, UBC in Vancouver and LMU, he patiently encouraged me to move past the comfortable routines that were dominating my thinking and living. What built my confidence in his advice—besides his obvious brilliance—and slowly overcame my resistance to change were his humor and delight in simple jokes. When he and Sally came to Texas in 2001, his first words exiting the airplane ramp were, “Can I tell George Bush jokes here?” At a country restaurant near the LBJ ranch, he delighted in posing for a picture between a life-size poster of John Wayne and a large photograph of Elvis. In more recent years several vacations with Sally and Phil deepened our friendship and, along with his flow of articles, “last” books and countless emails, convinced me that our meeting in 1984 was the first of many providential gifts that have made all the difference in my life. How inadequate now seem the many thanks I voiced for his wisdom and patient nudging.
July 6, 2020
Our friendship began in 1938 when we met in a kindergarten and we accompanied each other closely until 1972 when he left the Jesuits. It did not end then but contact was irregular though the friendship has endured always. I have been fearing the loss of such a longtime companion, especially as it developed so suddenly, and ending so quickly.
You may know the photo where we two are walking down the Main Street in Dublin. It was August 1950 and Phil had come to my home having picked up somehow that I was entering the Jesuits. Knowing him I guessed that there was some reason for his insistence on knowing if it was true and guessed that he too was joining the same order. I forget what we did afterwards as we headed downtown, but we felt better knowing that we would still be making our journey together; or as he put it: “I will be putting up with you.”
Well he does not need to put up with me any longer and I already feel the loss.
—John Looby, S.J.
July 6, 2020
I have known Phil for a couple of years now, from the time I have taken charge as editor of Divyadaan. He has shown great interest in my work—my philosophical interests; most importantly, he showed much concern when I was trying to manage ‘many hats’ [as he would say referring to my multiple responsibilities at our institute]. The moral support he gave me in those moments helped me cope with my stress. We became friends while working on Divyadaan—and we were fortunate to publish many articles by Phil and even entire volumes dedicated to Phil’s work. I know that Phil has a small but dedicated number of followers and admirers in the Lonergan circle. They are carrying forward his legacy.
Last Christmas he sent me a collection of his own books—which we have already put in our library.
Dear Phil, just a quick note—it seems time only permits quick notes these days—mainly to say one thing only, and that is: Thank you. You have helped me immensely, by your encouragement, by your own writings and by your generous commentary on mine, and probably most of all by never letting me settle. I guess I don’t have to tell you the value of a nudge and a hint. I’m deeply grateful for it all. I don’t know what else I could possibly say at this hour. I suppose you’re about to verify, or not, your musings on eschatology. Keep me in your prayers when you land, and I’ll do the same. Very fondly indeed…
Phil – I’m thinking of your joyful smile, warm spirit and dancing toes and realizing how long ago my Bridgewater/Nova Scotia years with all of you has been. As such a connected and wonderful experience, it’s hard to believe the decades that have passed in between. I’ve been so grateful to you in so many ways and just wanted to let you know that you and Sally are in my thoughts and prayers. You are forever a mentor to me and I feel blessed for the time we’ve shared through the years.
Please, if possible, let Phil know of my deepest feelings of gratitude and acknowledgment for having generously shared with us, here in Colombia and in Mexico in special, his poetic, polyphonic, wise, prophetic, humorous, critical, loving and kaleidoscopically brilliant existence; for having entrusted to us the translation into our language of some of his most inspiring texts and conferences; for having taught us humanity, creativity and hope; for having helped us understand and self-appropriate Master Lonergan, appropriating ourselves in our family, regional and continental histories.