Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One that went straight up.

A longtime professor of classics at Georgetown University, Father Edward W. Bodnar, S.J. died yesterday morning at 91. I never had Father Bodnar as a teacher - he retired from the classroom in 1991 - but he was still very active on campus during my college years: he regularly said Mass and heard confessions in Dahlgren Chapel, and he also offered words of advice and encouragement to students of Latin, myself included. After I graduated, I invariably ran into Father Bodnar whenever I returned to the Hilltop; he always remembered my name, and I hope that I will remember to pray for him now that he has gone to his reward.

For more on Father Bodnar's life and legacy, here are some words from Georgetown Provost Jim O'Donnell, posted today by Vox Populi:
Father Bodnar was born in 1920 in West Point, New York, where his father played in the post band before moving family to Washington to join the US Marine Band. Edward Bodnar graduated from Gonzaga and came to Georgetown but left after two years to enter the Jesuit novitiate. He was ordained in June 1952 and so passed away just a few months shy of 60 years in the priesthood. With a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1958, he concentrated his scholarship on the work of the indefatigable Cyriac of Ancona, a merchant traveler from Italy in the 15th century who studied ancient Greek inscriptions in Athens during the last years before the Turkish conquest of Constantinople. That work filled a rich lifetime of scholarship and it was a particular privilege for some of us to attend the "book launch" in 2004 of his edition and translation of Cyriac’s later writings. Fr. Bodnar came to Georgetown in 1967 and remained as professor of classics until his retirement in 1991. In his honor, the department hosts an eminent scholar each year to deliver the "Bodnar Lecture," and it is sad to think we will not see again the twinkle in his eye when he regularly remarked on that occasion that he was surprised that it was not yet a posthumous honor. We will refresh that celebration in a few months.

Priest, scholar, and Hoya, his gentle way, his keen intellect, and that distinctive twinkle will be remembered by many, including a Provost for whom he has been his "oldest" Georgetown friend, dating from our meeting in Woodrow Wilson’s living room 35 years ago. A friend and admirer of his of very long standing remarked this morning, "Well, he’s one that went straight up," and many of us know exactly what she meant. Requiescat in pace.
May he indeed rest in peace, and may his memory be eternal. AMDG.


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