Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
St. Mary's college makes Fr. Thomas Mohan an honorary fellow
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
CALGARY - Basilian Father Thomas Mohan, an Ontario priest, played a pivotal role in getting St. Mary's University College off the ground back in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In recognition of his contributions as a founder, St. Mary's presented Mohan with the designation of honorary fellow at its June 27 convocation.
"It's a privilege to recognize exceptional leaders within the Catholic community," said St. Mary's president Dr. Terence Downey, who presented the distinction to Mohan.
"St. Mary's is a unique place that came into being, in large part, due to the tenacity and wisdom of Father Mohan and other individuals with a similar passion and vision for Catholic education."
Mohan is the sixth person to receive the designation of honorary fellow from St. Mary's since 2004. The distinction is equivalent to an honorary degree and is given to people who have contributed to the life and the development of the college.
Last year it was presented to Dr. John Thompson, a former president of St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, who was also instrumental in getting St. Mary's established in the early 1990s.
"I'm very happy and pleased to have received this honour," Mohan said from Ontario July 2. "I think it's a significant honour because St. Mary's College is up and running and representing the Catholic academic tradition."
St. Mary's University College is a Catholic liberal arts and science institution authorized by the Alberta government to offer bachelor of arts degrees in the areas of history, English (three-year and four-year degrees), general studies and psychology.
Mohan worked for the development of St. Mary's while serving as associate superintendent for the Calgary Catholic School District between 1981 and 1993.
"(During that time) he kept alive the dream of a Catholic university college here in Calgary," Downey said from Calgary July 3. "He was instrumental in doing that and encouraged other people as well."
Before Mohan's arrival in Calgary in 1991, Calgary Catholic had undertaken consultations on the feasibility of Catholic university college that would guarantee the future of Catholic education in Alberta.
Such an institution would develop teachers and administrators who were imbued with the Catholic intellectual tradition.
CREATING A REALITY
"Working with the Calgary Catholic School Board, Father Mohan translated this aspiration into reality through a variety of initiatives," read Mohan's citation for the honorary fellowship.
After winning support for the project from Calgary Bishop Paul O'Byrne, Mohan helped assemble a committee that formulated a vision statement describing St. Mary's as a Catholic post-secondary institution open to all.
The college received its charter from the Alberta government on Sept. 18, 1986. Soon after that, St. Mary's began offering courses primarily for Calgary Catholic school teachers.
It offered its first accredited course in January 1994. In September 1997, the college began offering a full-time academic program.
"While the Congregation of St. Basil had called Father Mohan back to Ontario in 1993, the fruit of his labour has been manifest in every course and program St. Mary's has developed since its beginnings," the citation reads.
Mohan's contributions to St. Mary's are only part of his stellar résumé as a lifelong priest-educator. Between 1973 and 1981, he had been the founding principal of two high schools in Toronto - Henry Carr and Don Bosco.
From 1993 until his retirement in 2000, Mohan served as principal and president of St. Michael's College School in Toronto. He also served as chaplain of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees' Association for 25 years.
Mohan currently serves as rector of Henry Carr Farm, a place of retreat and renewal near Bond Head, Ont.