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"SYR" 2003 Obituary


SYRING 

SYRING o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-28 published
Rev. John Francis MADDEN
By Joan Fidler BURROW and Reverend Bob MADDEN Wednesday, May 28, 2003 - Page A20
Son, brother, uncle, Basilian priest, teacher. Born October 30, 1921, in Detroit. Died January 5, in Toronto, of cancer, aged Picture a long stretch of red dirt road in the tropical forest of central Ghana, West Africa, in 1957. A minivan stops and disgorges five young Canadian university students, their Ghanaian guide, and their leader: a slight, youthful-looking priest from Toronto. He discreetly hands out the toilet paper as his companions disappear into the lush growth.
Father Jack MADDEN, C.S.B., was well-suited to be accompanying the students attending a seminar at the University of Accra in Ghana.
Born of Irish heritage, he was the eldest of three children of the late Patrick Henry MADDEN and Mary Agnes McKNIGHT. After graduating from high school, Jack came to Toronto to enter the novitiate of the Basilian Fathers. He was ordained a priest in 1948, pursued graduate studies at Harvard, and spent the rest of his life ministering and teaching in a variety of situations.
Father Jack was a much-beloved English professor at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, in the 1950s and 1960s. He loved words and helped his students love them. He would recite by memory the etymology, the cognates in sister languages and the story of their development. Students learning Anglo-Saxon today still use his "Frequency Word List of Anglo-Saxon Poetry." He was approachable and never pedantic.
He used the storyteller method, and his enthusiasm for English literature inspired many of his students. Former students often refer to his vibrant presentation of the works of Chaucer; one such student still cherishes the image of "Father MADDEN sitting cross-legged on his desk, chuckling as he read aloud from The Canterbury Tales!" Many have said that he was one of the best teachers they ever had; all benefited from his zeal, intelligence, knowledge and compassion.
In 1969, he was assigned to Houston, Texas, where he combined ministry with teaching at the University of Saint Thomas. He also served successfully and effectively as chaplain to the parish grade-school. At that time, one colleague noted, "Saint Anne's must have the only grade-school in the world whose chaplain has a PhD from Harvard!"
In 1980, he went to St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he was involved in campus ministry and taught theology. Other parish assignments were in Owen Sound, Ontario, and in Calgary.
Wherever he taught or worked in campus ministry, Father Jack combined the sacramental and education roles of his priestly calling as a Basilian. Along with his teaching and parochial duties, he gave retreats to priests, religious and laity in the United States and Canada. In almost every diocese and Basilian Institution in which he served, he was consulted by bishops, confrères, diocesan priests and religious on matters educational, spiritual, theological and liturgical.
Father Jack began to experience physical health difficulties early in 1980. In 1990, he fell victim to neuropathy, which increasingly affected his walking. At his request, he was appointed to Anglin House, the Basilian infirmary facility in Toronto on the St. Michael's College campus, taking up residence there in 1998. In 2002 he was diagnosed with cancer, which eventually confined him to bed until his death.
He finished his life's journey on a road paved with loving concern for others, a dynamic personality, a sense of humour, and a deep and joyous faith in God. He leaves his brother, Reverend Bob MADDEN, C.S.B.; his sister Patricia SYRING of Toledo, Ohio; six nieces and nephews and seven grand-nieces and nephews.
Joan Fidler BURROWS is a former student of John MADDEN; Father Bob, his brother.

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