Margaret O’Gara, a distinguished professor of theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, died Aug. 16 at age 65, after a two-year battle with cancer.
A champion of ecumenism, O’Gara served from 1976 to 1993 on Canada’s Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue, and during that time worked closely with the Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, former director of faith, worship and ministry for the Anglican Church of Canada.
“She was one of the most gracious people I have ever known,” says Barnett-Cowan, who is now director for unity, faith and order at the Anglican Communion Office in London. “Her commitment to ecumenism remained constant even through times when others became discouraged. Her commitment to her own church was absolute, yet she always listened deeply to the commitments and values of others.”
The primary goal of O’Gara’s 37 years of work was fostering dialogue among Christians. Besides her teaching, research, writing and extensive public lecturing, she was a member of official ecumenical dialogues in the U.S. and abroad. O’Gara also served as president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and the Catholic Theological Society of America.
O’Gara is survived by her husband, Michael Vertin, a University of Toronto emeritus professor of philosophy. In her honour, St. Michael’s has established the Margaret O’Gara Scholarship to support an advanced-degree student specializing in ecumenical theology.