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"DUA" 2008 Obituary


DUARTE 

DUARTE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-03 published
McWILLIAM, Rev. Dr. Joanne E., M.A., PH.D., D.D.
Professor Emerita, the University of Toronto and Trinity College, Toronto, born December 10, 1928, died of cancer, nine years after the first diagnosis, on July 1, 2008. Cherished wife of C. Peter SLATER and beloved mother of Leslie GIRODAY (Philip,) Elizabeth DEWART (George McLAUCHLAN), Sean DEWART (Lori NEWTON), Gonzalo DUARTE, and grandmother of Gabrielle, Genevieve, James, Christopher, Alison, Karen, Geoffrey, Nora, George, Anne Marie, Joanna and Marc Francis. Fondly remembered stepmother of Lynne SLATER (Robert ARPIN), Ruth SLATER (Jim VIVIAN) and Claire SLATER (Ken RIDLEY). Joanne was the first woman to earn a doctorate in theology from Saint Michael's College, the first ordained woman to be tenured on the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, and the first woman holder of the chair in dogmatic theology at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, U.S.A., in New York. She served terms as Chair of the Department for the Study of Religion in the University of Toronto and as president of the American Theological Society, the Canadian Theological Society and the Canadian Society for Patristic Studies. A longtime director of Advanced Degree Studies for the Toronto School of Theology, she was an internationally acknowledged expert on the theology of Saint Augustine, and always very highly rated as a teacher by generations of students in both arts and theology and by her family. Ordained in 1988, she was, with her husband, an honorary assistant at Christ Church Deer Park. She loved her books, her dogs, and her garden. The family wishes to thank Doctor Amrit OZA and staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital and those from the Mount Sinai Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care and related services, who made it possible for her to die at home. Visitation will be at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Avenue West (2 lights west of Yonge Street) on Sunday, July 6 from 3-5 and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will take place at Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge Street (at Heath Street) on Monday, July 7 at 11 a.m. with reception to follow in the Parish Hall. Donations in her memory may be made to Médecins Sans Frontières or Street Haven.

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DUARTE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-07-16 published
Academic became a religious triple threat
Denied the voice she sought in Catholicism, she converted, then mentored hundreds of other women
By Ron CSILLAG, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S8
Joanne McWILLIAM felt she was outside her beloved church, looking in. Faced with the lifelong prospect of being denied the voice and role she sought in Roman Catholicism, she found an alternate route. She became an Anglican and a priest.
A religious pioneer and predictor of change who mentored and encouraged hundreds of women in academia and the priesthood, Dr. McWILLIAM tallied several milestones: She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in theology from the University of Toronto's Saint Michael's College; the first ordained woman to receive tenure on the divinity faculty at U of T's Trinity College; and the first Canadian woman elected president of the American Theological Society.
She was recalled as a warm, self-effacing woman, but serious about many things: teaching, her church and advancing the cause of women, both in her field and beyond. Her son, Gonzalo DUARTE, recalled a T-shirt his mother bought him in 1977 bearing the words: "Men of quality are not threatened by women for equality." It was a message she carried and heeded throughout her life.
Dr. McWILLIAM was a kind of religious triple threat. As a trained philosopher, theologian and priest, she had a wide knowledge of secular thought, of Christianity (especially its early development) and of what it takes to shepherd a congregation - all within a liberal framework. "She understood deep traditions very thoroughly, yet could advance new developments without fear," said Canon Alyson BARNETT- COWAN, a friend and colleague.
A tolerant woman, she had a healthy respect for those of other denominations and faiths. "She didn't have a proselytizing bone in her body," said her son, Sean DEWART. " She was not remotely judgmental."
An internationally acknowledged expert on the theology of St. Augustine, Dr. McWILLIAM's specialty was patristic studies, which focuses on the early church fathers. She wrote or co-wrote dozens of books, articles and book chapters on Augustine, feminist theology and Christology, the study of Jesus's divine nature.
For 15 years, she was a single mother and pursued her academic credentials while raising four children, who recognize today that she was a tireless advocate for women's rights who established herself as a major figure in a largely male domain, yet devoted years to studying the harsh patriarchy of the early Christian church.
Dr. McWILLIAM was raised in an ecumenical environment. She was the only child born to an electrical engineer who'd been a sapper during the First World War - a Catholic who had known discrimination in Toronto - and a stay-at-home mother who converted to Catholicism from the Presbyterian church. It was an arrangement that was deemed controversial in its day.
Their daughter graduated in philosophy and history from the University of Toronto in 1951, earning the Cardinal Mercier Medal in Philosophy, and completed a master's degree in the subject in 1953.
The next year, she married Leslie DEWART, who was born in Spain and raised in Cuba. His medical studies were interrupted by a strike, so in the early 1940s, at 19, he came to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He flew reconnaissance missions over the North Atlantic and went on to teach philosophy at Saint Michael's College. The couple divorced in 1972.
During the mid-1950s, Doctor McWILLIAM held a variety of jobs. She taught high school and lectured in philosophy at the University of Detroit. For a brief time, she was a reporter at the Toronto Star, covering "magistrate's court," but grew disenchanted. "She felt she was too much the observer and not enough of a participant," said daughter Elizabeth DEWART.
She returned to school and earned a second master's degree, this one in theology, from Saint Michael's College in 1966, followed two years later with a doctorate in theology, also from Saint Michael's. "She was an unbelievably hard worker," said Ms. DEWART.
Over the ensuing years, she held several teaching positions at Saint Michael's College, the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto's religious studies department, which she chaired for two terms.
But something was gnawing at her. She never voiced an outright disappointment in the Catholic Church, but "she felt things needed to change… that she didn't have a voice," said one of her former doctoral students, Ellen LEONARD of the Sisters of Saint_Joseph.
She found that voice in the Anglican Church of Canada, whose synod on whether to ordain women she addressed in 1975 as a Catholic theologian. The following year, in November, the church ordained its first female priest.
"I remember her telling me that she was leaving the [Catholic] church," Ms. DEWART recalled. "It was so solemn. She didn't see the opportunity to become a priest. That was a huge decision for her."
Dr. McWILLIAM became a deacon in the Anglican Church in 1987, the year she married Peter SLATER, an Anglican priest and fellow theologian, and was ordained a priest the next year, at the age of 60. For one thing, she felt it was important for female students to have a female priest on the faculty.
While continuing to teach, transferring from the Catholic Saint Michael's College to the divinity faculty at Trinity College, Canada's oldest Anglican theological school, she served as honorary assistant at Toronto's Christ Church Deer Park. In 1997, she was appointed by Michael Peers, then leader of the Anglican Church of Canada, to a high-level review of central religious issues. The first Primate's Theological Commission, which lasted until 2003, produced three workbooks to assist the church on "fundamental theological questions."
She addressed such matters as the nature of God. The Christian tradition of labelling the members of the Trinity - the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit - as "persons," was "on the whole a bad decision," she wrote (noting that Augustine and many others have said so) "because when we use it, we cannot but think of human persons, and attribute the characteristics of human personhood to God."
The Trinity "is a mystery and cannot be explained in any rational way."
An optimist, she felt the global Anglican communion will weather its spasm over homosexuality and avoid schism. She cited examples of other threats to unity - slavery and the place of women - that failed to split the church.
Dr. McWILLIAM taught for five years at the Episcopal Church's General Theology Seminary in New York, the first woman to hold a chair in dogmatic theology. Back in Canada, she contributed to the decision in 2001 to provide joint recognition to Anglican-Lutheran ordinations in this country.
Health conscious before it was fashionable, she ingested plain yogurt and chicken livers for breakfast. But a regular tipple of sherry was never turned aside. Minutes after doctors informed her that her cancer was untreatable, she asked her daughter Leslie to drop by for a glass, reasoning that "there's no point allowing life to go completely to the dogs."
Still with sherry, just a few weeks before her death, she insisted that her son Sean pour from an older bottle. When he asked why he shouldn't open the fine new one he had just bought, she replied, "I'm saving it!"
She died a week before the worldwide Anglican church voted to allow women to serve as bishops.
Joanne Elizabeth McWILLIAM was born in Toronto on December 10, 1928, and died there of cancer, nine years after the first diagnosis, on July 1, 2008. She was 79. She leaves husband C. Peter SLATER, children Leslie GIRODAY, Elizabeth DEWART, Sean DEWART and Gonzalo DUARTE, and 12 grandchildren.

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