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Featured Family Member - Monsignor Patrick E. Cavanagh (1925 - 2003)

Monsignor Patrick E. Cavanagh (1925 - 2003)

Patrick died on July 24th, 2003. The following tribute was written in 1989 when Patrick left St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario.

The departure of Pat Cavanagh from the Seminary marks a truly historic occasion. The task of Spiritual Director of the house has only changed hands twice in living memory. Monsignor Forristal held the office since shortly after the Creation and was followed by Pat who also served for an incredible number of years.

My memories of Pat go back many years as well. It was in the fall of 1946 that I entered the Seminary and met this "older" seminarian (after all he was a first year theologian and I a fledgling philosopher). We became good friends almost at once and have remained so for over forty years.

Pat came from Thessalon, a very small town near Sault Ste. Marie where his father was the pharmacist. Pat was one of those irritating types an A+ student, an excellent athlete (track and field - hard to believe?) and an accomplished musician (piano and organ). All these gifts were wedded, however, to an affable and gentle personality.

After his ordination in 1950, he became Curate at the Pro Cathedral of the Assumption in North Bay, Bishop's Secretary, Chancellor and Pastor of a new parish. Trying to do all these things simultaneously led to health problems. He came to London to recuperate and has been here ever since. We taught together at King's College until the Seminary cast envious glances at him and the rest is history.

After extensive studies at Notre Dame where he obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. (with a thesis on John Henry Newman), he returned to join the staff of the Seminary where he taught Philosophy and Theology. Later he studied Spiritual Theology in Rome and served as Spiritual Director of the Seminary for twenty eight years, in addition to preaching retreats to priests’ seminarians and sisters all over Canada.

Pat's heroes tell us something of the man they include Cardinal Newman, Teresa of Avila and Francis de Sales. He is a man not only of deep spirituality but of great sensitivity and delightful wit. His malapropisms (sometimes deliberate) are always a source of great good humour.

Above all. Pat Cavanagh is a man of class (urbanitas as Vatican II calls it).

The people of his new parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Waterford will be enriched by his well crafted homilies and his pastoral dedication, and he is already very happy in their service.

Pat Cavanagh - to know him compels esteem! To know him well compels affection. His leaving the Seminary is truly a "Parting of Friends''.

Stan McGuire,
the Alumni Bulletin of St. Peter's Seminary, London, Ontario, Canada 1989