Saturday, March 18, 2017

RIP Father Monan


If you are proud of what Boston College is today, you owe it to mostly one man: Father Donald Monan, S.J. If you attended BC in the last 45 years, your educational and social experience was really shaped by one man: Father Monan. If you are a fan of BC sports, the school and its athletics would not be where they are today without the passion of Father Monan. The school's 24th president died Saturday at the Campion home for Jesuits in Weston. He leaves behind and enormous and proud legacy.

Doug Flutie is often given credit as the spark for BC's current popularity, but nothing Flutie did on the field happens without Father Monan. By the time Doug arrived, Father Monan had already rebuilt the school's teetering financials and started the building boom that changed BC from a regional commuter school to a national university. Monan respected athletics and saw sports as a key to a full educational experience. He supported our teams and athletes and encouraged BC to take part in the then risky proposition of the Big East Conference. But Monan also knew that any attention BC earned on the field had to be complimented with elite academics. That academic focus, not the sports, is why BC's reputation is now solidified among the best universities in the country.

But beyond his accomplishments as an educator, leader and Catholic thinker, I think what is hard to capture was Monan's warmth and charm. In that case he was an ideal university President. Who wouldn't help BC when Father Monan called? No wonder the school was able to raise so much money during his tenure. He had that easy way about him that inspired trust and love. I was a BC student during his final years. To say he was beloved was an understatement. His fellow Jesuits had tremendous loyalty to him too. A few years after we graduated, my wife and I visited another Jesuit at St. Mary's for lunch. As we were wrapping up, Monan walked over to say hello. As our host introduced us, Father Monan then spent a few minutes talking to us about BC, life after graduation, etc. His charisma in that scenario showed that he could have done many things with his life and been a great success in politics or business. All of us -- especially the Jesuits and BC -- are lucky that he received the call to serve others. His leadership, vision and compassion will forever be a part of Boston College. We all owe him our thanks. May he rest in peace.

17 comments:

mod34b said...

Well said ATL.

BC has lost a giant.

Rest In Peace Father Monan

always sunny in cleveland said...

May the angels welcome him to Paradise.

bceagle91 said...

Cleveland, I'll bet they already have.

NEDofSavinHill said...

Great man. Great leader. Hired the best AD in BC history. The AD then hired York, Skinner, TC, TOB and Inglese the best coaches. God bless him.

eagle1331 said...

May he rest in peace, and may the existing leadership be inspired by his story to get things straight.

Veteranscribe said...

Now forthcoming are many fond memories of the late J. Donald Monan. S.J. Here's one of mine.

I was Director of Alumni Support at Boston College back in the 1980s. Though I was not a member of Father Monan's senior team or inner circle, I had frequent occasion to meet and work with him on alumni-related matters. I've always considered him a friend.

One such occasion was a VIP gathering in the owner's suite at the Astrodome in Houston. John McMullen, owner of the Houston Astros and then a BC trustee, offered to host a reception for our Texas-based alumni contributors. How could we refuse?

I was part of the small staff that accompanied Fr. Monan to the game. The owner's suite was high up on the right field wall -- think luxury, indoor Monster Seats. It was a Saturday night, and Fr.Monan celebrated Mass in a room adjoining the suite.

Shortly before game time, McMullen informed Father Monan that "You're throwing out the first pitch." The good father pretended to be reluctant about it, but he obviously relished the idea. He was a good athlete, and he kept himself in good shape.

I escorted him down the elevator, through the crowded concourse, and out onto the field. I stood behind the catcher, Alan Ashby, while Father took the mound. He whipped home a good strike - no wimpy blooper at all.

That was way cool. But it was even cooler, because that game was also a benefit night of some sort for a local Protestant congregation - probably Baptists - and here's this guy in a Roman collar throwing out the first pitch.

We then made our way off the field and back through the crowd to the elevator. The crowd was quite different from a Fenway gathering, and I recall our noting its marvelous diversity. Houston is a teeming international hub and the heart of America's booming petroleum industry. Name any ethnic group, and you'll find it in Houston.

One little kid came right up to him and said "Hey. Ain't you the guy who threw the ball?" and proceeded to shake his hand.

Father Monan walked with kings but did not lose the common touch. And he was absolutely the right man to come along and lead Boston College at the time in its history when the school needed him most.

TeddyE said...

John McMullen's son went to BC and his grandson played on the Hockey team, I believe graduating last year. He played sparingly. I knew John McMullen and his son Peter when I worked for the NJ Devils. A class family that really pulls for BC, and that was prior to the grandson, also named Peter, playing for Jerry York. The Art Museum is named after the family. Peter is one of VP's of the Devils still, god willing he will offer some support to the AD Search. What support, I don't know.

Christopher Walsh said...

Sad day at Boston College, had chance to meet Father Monan when I was at BC. He put the school and athletics on the national map. With that said, you know what really aggravates me is that I was at the Hockey Eat Championship last night at the Garden and there was no moment of silence in the pregame before the national anthem. I have felt that BC's PR department has sucked for years, but this takes the cake. If Umass Lowell asked for a moment of silence for there president who passed away, I would have acknowledged the passing. I can't stand that BC dropped the ball on that. It just shows how disconnected they with their alumni and the surrounding communities. Disgraceful.

Knucklehead said...
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TheFive said...

BC was so very lucky to have had Fr. Monan who loved the school and the city of Boston. No university could have asked for a better leader. He embodied everything for which the Jesuit order stands. May he rest in peace.

John said...

I was always proud that Fr. Monan was the President of my college - and always proud to acknowledge him as a true leader when speaking with others about college topics.

Yes, may he rest in peace.

Napolean Bonaparte said...

We tend to only name buildings lately after big donors. In view of Monan's contributions, it would seem a fitting tribute to rename Alumni Stadium as Monan Field. Always thought the Alumni name was a little bland anyway. If called Monan Field - maybe the Jesuits would pay a bit more attention to what happens there.

Goberry said...

I believe the name is Alumni Memorial Stadium, named for the BC grads who died in WWI and II (perhaps subsequent conflicts). Nothing bland about that, NB.

mod34b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max said...

I read somewhere it was named Alumni Stadium in thanks to the alumni that paid for the stadium to be moved from dust bowl to current locale when BC decided to keep football when other Jesuit schools were not

Puppydogs said...

I first met Father Monan in Tokyo at the Mirage Bowl. I was in the Navy and our ship was off the coast at the time. Another BC alum, Rick Bradley '67, and I were squadronmates and we asked if we could fly in to see the game. Our CO approved it and we caught the COD into Atsugi. We made our way to the hotel where BC was based and ended up at a reception. Father Monan was so impressed that we had managed to get in for the game, he offered us tickets and a ride to and from the stadium. Unfortunately, the game capped off a winless season and the ride home was subdued, but he talked to us and asked us a lot about our lives in the Navy. A few years later at an alumni reception in San Diego, he came up to me and said he had remembered me from Tokyo - I was so impressed that he would recall that chance encounter. I had the privilege to drive him back to his hotel and we talked for quite awhile. What a wonderful man who will be dearly missed.

BCAlum2000 said...

Wonderful man. All of us who have BC degrees owe a tremendous amount to this great man. RIP Father Monan.