Fr. Joseph Owens, CSSR, dies in Toronto, Canada (Oct. 30, 2005)

owens1988.jpgSome very sad news from Toronto. Fr. Joseph Owens, CSSR, one of the very first students at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, Canada, has died, at the age of 97 years old. I was blessed to have Fr Owens for two classes in Toronto, on Aristotle’s De anima and on the Nicomachean Ethics. He would come to class with only one thing: the small Oxford edition of the relevant work of Aristotle, in Greek. Nothing else. He would perch his reading classes on his forehead (never on top of his head; how did those glasses stay put?), and explain some point, citing the book, chapter, and often even the Becker number, of Aristotle’s text. He was gentle and clear, always a role-model of excellent scholarship and even better collegiality.

The good people at Owens’s beloved Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies have posted an obituary article on their web site. Here is the obituary, from the Toronto Globe and Mail (November 2, 2005):

REV. JOSEPH OWENS C.Ss.R. At the Providence Health Centre, Toronto on Sunday, October 30, 2005, in his 98th year and the 77th year of his Religious Life. Father Owens was ordained in 1933. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick on April 17, 1908, son of Louis Owens and Josephine Quinn. Father Joseph is survived by two nieces, Anne (David) Cole, Katherine (Ralph) Furness and by his nephews, Bryson (Jacqueline) Eldridge, William (Trina) Eldridge, Robert Eldridge and Gerard (Susan) Eldridge. He served in parishes in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and did graduate studies in Toronto at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and taught philosophy to younger members of his Community, until he received his Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies in 1946. Father Owens then continued to study at the Institute while also lecturing in philosophy in Redemptorist houses of study. In 1951 he received his Doctorate in Mediaeval Studies summa cum laude from the Institute and became a professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Institute in 1954. In medieval philosophy he taught and wrote extensively on the philosophy of St. Thomas, especially in the areas of metaphysics (the study of ultimate reality), the philosophy of the human person, the philosophy of knowledge, and ethics. Father Owens wrote nine philosophy books and almost a hundred and fifty articles and forty book reviews. In 1973, having passed the usual retirement age, he continued to publish and teach part-time for another twenty-five years. Friends may call at St. Patrick’s Church, 141 McCaul Street, Toronto, on Thursday, November 3rd from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mass of the Thanksgiving will be concelebrated on Thursday evening, November 3rd at 7 o’clock. Funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter ‘s Church, Saint John, New Brunswick on Monday, November 7th followed by interment in Calvary Cemetery. Funeral arrangements entrusted to the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home & Chapel (416) 924-1408.

I’m sure that there are many who have strong remembrances of Fr Owens. Please leave comments…
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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded thomistica.net on Squarespace in November of 2004. He studied with James Weisheipl, Leonard Boyle, Walter Principe, and Lawrence Dewan, at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto, Canada).