Theologian, ecumenist Margaret O’Gara dies of cancer at 65
By Catholic News Service
TORONTO (CNS) — Margaret O’Gara, a past president of both the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the Catholic Theological Society of America, died Aug. 16 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 65.
Her funeral mass was scheduled for Aug. 23 at St. Basil Church in Toronto. She was to be buried in Breckenridge, Minn.
O’Gara, a theologian for 37 years, was a professor of theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Her husband, Michael Vertin, was a professor emeritus of theology at the same school.
In announcing O’Gara’s death, Basilian Father Mario O. DiSouza, dean of theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, described her as “both my teacher and colleague” and said “her counsel and support were always invaluable.”
“She cared for and loved her students, her colleagues and her teaching at the faculty of theology very dearly, and while we mourn her passing, we know that we have a powerful and committed intercessor for our work and continued mission,” he added.
An obituary prepared by her husband said the aim of O’Gara’s work “was to foster dialogue among Christians for the sake of overcoming divisions between the churches.” She was a member of official ecumenical dialogues in Canada, the U.S. and on the international level.
“Margaret’s unusual effectiveness in these professional arenas came from a combination of her scholarly rigor, her exceptional ability to listen sympathetically, her uncommon energy and her contagious delight at the growth of mutual understanding and friendship,” Vertin wrote.
“The same traits marked her strong personal relationships with her students and colleagues, the members of her extended family and her many long-standing friends,” he added. “Beneath everything else, the fundamental driving force of her life was her deep and abiding Christian faith.”
In addition to her husband, O’Gara is survived by her sister, Monica, a niece and a nephew.
The theology faculty at the University of St. Michael’s College established
the Margaret O’Gara Scholarship in her honour to benefit an advanced
degree student specializing in the area of ecumenical theology.