A CHAMPION of ecumenism has died. Rev. Jean-Marie Tillard of the Dominican Fathers of Ottawa died in November at the age of 73.
Anglicans also involved in ecumenical relations remember Fr. Tillard for his devotion and tireless efforts on behalf of ecumenism as well as for his humour and penetrating insights.
A teacher and scholar of international repute, he was a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) since its beginning in 1970 and was a major influence in the search for unity between the Roman Catholic Church and the churches of the Anglican Communion.
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of General Synod’s Faith, Worship and Ministry department, delivered a testimonial at Fr. Tillard’s funeral in Ottawa on behalf of the Faith and Order Commission.
“We who worked with him will long treasure those moments when he would carefully outline an ecumenical dilemma (together with vivid descriptions of all the contenders – “oh, my dear!”), then give his brilliant solution – the incontrovertible resolution -, put down his pen, still his so expressive hands, tilt his wonderfully unkempt head, and beam at everyone around the table. It was, for the moment, done – another brick placed in the edifice of the new church in which all would feel at home,” she said.
Last May, Fr. Tillard acted as a special theological consultant to the historic meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Ont. Those attending said he brought vision, warmth and challenge to the proceedings.
At the November meeting of the Council of General Synod, Archbishop Michael Peers, the primate, described him as “a friend” of Anglicans.