incluent le P. Michel Gourgues o.p qui se trouve Jérusalem.
Voici le témoignage de Dr. Chantal Beauvais recteur de l’Université Saint-Paul, offert à l’occasion des funérailles du P. Dewan
Chers frères dominicainsDear members of Fr. Dewan’s family,
Dear members of the College’s family,
First of all, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to all of you for the loss of Fr. Dewan. His absence leaves a huge void in our hearts, in the Convent, and in the College. After having had the privilege of knowing him for 25 years, I can say that Fr. Dewan was a Friar, a Scholar, and a Gentleman in fullest sense of these words.
Timothy Radcliffe, who used to be at the helm of the Dominican Order said somewhere: “A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” Fr. Dewan was a very spiritual person. His spirituality added a unique quality to his extremely developed rationality. Indeed, Fr. Dewan was über-rational. Rationality has its strengths, but it also has the capacity of being destructive if not properly managed. Not only did Fr. Dewan’s spirituality soften the edges of his rationality, it provided a unique depth to his analysis of philosophical texts, of Aquinas and Augustine in particular. But nowhere was Fr. Dewan’s spirituality more apparent than when he would preside the Eucharist. There, he would invite us to be open to God’s love and rejoice in his mercy, and engage fully in our life as disciples of Christ. As some of you may know, we used to affectionately refer to him as “Lar-requiem” when he would preside the Eucharist. We joked about it, but it was our clumsy way of acknowledging his piety, his meekness, and his profound connection with God. He would put his big hands up, inviting us to pray, and he would totally immerse himself in the spiritual moment. One could see that praying made him very happy. A couple of days before his passing, I spent an hour or so with him, and noting that he was somewhat agitated, I cranked up my Ipod and played the Magnificat. As I sang along, He immediately started smiling, and acted as if he directed the choir. It was a beautiful moment. Clearly, Mary’s joyful disposition before the will of God was at the heart of who Fr. Dewan was.
De plus, le P. Dewan était un scholar exceptionnel, sans doute parmi les plus grands experts contemporains de la pensée de Thomas d’Aquin. Il n’y a qu’à parcourir son cv pour constater le calibre de ce chercheur universtaire. Comme il n’y avait pas une once de vanité chez lui, nous, ses étudiants, ignorions jusqu’à quel point nous étions chanceux de l’avoir comme professeur. Dans le cadre de mes fonctions actuelles, j’ai l’occasion de prendre connaissance de nombreux cvs, laissez-moi vous dire que peu d’universitaires lui arrive à la cheville.
J’ai suivi 4 cours de philosophie avec le P. Dewan : 2 cours de métaphysique, 1 cours sur Platon et un cours sur la question de Dieu. De plus, le P. Dewan fut l’un de mes examinateurs pour l’examen de synthèse et fut également le directeur de mon mémoire de maîtrise, puis examinateur pour ma thèse de doctorat alors que j’étais étudiante à l’Université d’Ottawa. On ne se le cachera pas : les cours du P. Dewan figuraient parmi les plus exigeants (avec ceux du P. Lavoie, bien sûr). Surtout le cours de métaphysique donné le lundi matin à 8h30 ! Pauvre P Dewan, il n’avait pas hérité de la meilleure cohorte cette année-là. Plusieurs d’entre nous n’étaient pas nécessairement disposés pour la plongée métaphysique en apnée. Peu importe, P. Dewan ouvrait sa Somme théologique et nous étions bien obligés de le suivre à travers les méandres de la pensée du grand maître. Que de vocabulaire à maîtriser, latin, grec, français! Que de notions à comprendre !
Fr. Dewan’s courses were demanding, because they addressed very abstract notions. He would go through the lesson with intense meticulousness and rigorous logic. He would methodically take us through one of Aquinas’ question, article by article, line by line and sometimes word by word. And even footnote by footnote!. All of his words and examples were necessary to understand what was going on in the text. If you lost focus, for even just a couple of minutes, you were done. Let me tell you: staying focused on Fr. Dewan for 180 minutes was an extreme sport. In fact, we had learned not to ask too many questions because they would inevitably take us to dense regions of Fr. Dewan’s mind that we simply could not handle to visit. He just had too much to offer for untamed minds like ours. Fortunately for us, he was an unusually humble erudite. Never did he once make us feel like the philistines we were. Moreover, he was an outstanding teacher, and he was very creative in finding impactful examples.
Le P. Dewan n’hésitait pas à incarner certains concepts lorsqu’il s’apercevait que nos pauvres esprits peinaient à le suivre. Je me souviens très bien du concept de substance (ousia). Le P. Dewan voulait que nous saisissions l’efficacité d’une substance, son autonomie, sa perfection. Une ousia a tout ce qu’il lui faut pour faire ce qu’elle a à faire avec un certain niveau de compétence. Une ousia réussit habituellement à bien être ce qu’elle doit être. Ses exemples préférés : l’ours et l’araignée ! Il fallait voir le P. Dewan les deux bras en l’air comme un ours qui veut se montrer menaçant : « un ours là », ou tentant d’imiter une araignée « l’araignée ». Un autre de ces fameux exemples était l’acte d’être. Rien comme un interrupteur électrique pour illustrer l’action illuminatrice de l’acte d’être.
Écrire une dissertation pour le cours du P. Dewan exigeait une certaine part d’audace ou de naïveté! Sa logique impitoyable mettait nos pauvres intelligences à nu ! Les examens pouvaient aussi causer une certaine dose d’anxiété chez les étudiants. Je pense que l’interrupteur « logique » était toujours en marche dans sa tête. Absolument pas de répit pour les propos incohérents ou déraisonnables : « êtes-vous certaine de vouloir dire cela » ? « Tantôt, vous avez dit cela, maintenant vous dites autre chose n’y a-t-il pas une contradiction ici ?… » Ou « ne serait-il pas plus raisonnable de dire que …. ».
En tant que directeur de thèse, ce savant cocktail d’érudition, de logique, d’examinateur et d’enseignement était porté à un niveau encore plus élevé Assurément celui ou celle qui osait le parcours en sortait plus intelligent mais aussi plus conscient de son propre manque d’intelligence…
Fr. Dewan was also a man of the world. Being a religious and an intellectual was definitely not a way for him to escape from the vicissitudes of the world. As a good thomist, He loved the world indeed. He was interested in all kinds of things: trains, geology, foreign languages, scotch, jazz. Yes, scotch and jazz ! He enjoyed philosophical colloquiums, especially those held by the Canadian Jacques Maritain Society, and he would never miss a chance to poke holes in our theories. But he would enjoy having a late dinner with us even more. He was a great conversationalist. He enjoyed sipping scotch and telling stories about a Russian spy who lived near the College, or about unknowingly sitting in a plane next to the great Maureen Forrester. I am told he also enjoyed playing social games during family meetings. He was indeed a very sociable person. Once, a group of us were enjoying a meal after a 2-day symposium of some sort, and the table ended up being split between two groups of dinner guests: one on the left hand side, and one on the right, each engaged in their own conversations. I was engaged in the conversation with the group on the right. All of a sudden, I felt someone gently pulling my arm. As I turned toward my colleague sitting on my left, I was astonished to hear Fr. Dewan pleadingly say: “talk to me!”. The poor man, he had somehow been stranded in a no man’s land between the two groups, and he was suffering from loneliness. I remember feeling a sudden burst of affection for him. There was a man who had a vital need to be part of a community. Needless to say, it did not take long for us to start our own community of discourse.
Fr. Dewan was also a man of solidarity. When I was the President of the student association, the College did not yet qualify for the special OC Transpo rate. Without hesitation he helped us deal with the bureaucratic process that would eventually lead us to obtain the special status in question. As I was thanking him for taking some of his valuable time to help us, he said something like: “I like fighting for a worthy cause”. He was also a man of compassion. He would observe people, and he would know if something was wrong. He was not necessarily of man of many words, but he had his own way of showing that he cared A real gentleman indeed.
Obviously, there is so much more I would like to say, but please allow me finish my homage with a poem from John Donne that Fr. Dewan would bring up in class on occasion. It is my hope that this poem will once more fill our hearts with his presence.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
His last talk: The Many Faces of Wisdom:
Friday, February 13, 2015
RIP Fr. Lawrence Dewan - World-Famous Thomist of Dominicans Dies
Dominican University Release: