Lonergan Research Institute's New HomeRenovations have begun at the Lonergan Research Institute’s new home. Expected to be completed by mid-August, the renovations are preparing a new location and a new profile for the LRI in the heart of one of the world’s leading research universities. Since the expected move-in date is only months away, the LRI staff have begun in earnest to prepare for the move. The first phase of the archival preservation of Father Frederick Crowe’s paper has begun, a listing of the 384 doctoral dissertations held in the LRI collection has been posted on the LRI website, and our extensive collection of secondary literature is being listed on the university’s online cataloguing system. We are sorting through our closets to make sure that everything is inventoried and the move goes without a hitch.

The photograph above shows what will become the “backdoor” to the new Regis College. The normal entrance to our future home will be through a new atrium that will join the historic Christie Mansion (west facade pictured here) with Fontbonne Hall to the east. The LRI will be located on the second floor of the Mansion, with a suite of rooms that includes a fire-proofed, climate controlled archive for the personal and academic papers of Fathers Lonergan and Crowe. In addition, the Mansion will house classrooms, faculty offices and administrative services. Fontbonne Hall will accomodate the chapel, main Regis College library, spiritual direction offices and student lounge.

We hope you will visit this website periodically to learn about the new facility and keep abreast of our progress. The next update is scheduled for May 15th. See you then.

November 15th Update: A five person crew hired by our general contractor Buttcon Limited from Concord Ontario has begun the modest structural alterations required in the second floor area that will house the future library, archive and offices of the Lonergan Research Institute. Since this area housed originally the private living quarters of the Christie family, the ceilings are generous in height and the finishings quite refined. Many of these original features will be retained as the work progresses. The space is deep, which will allow the archive room to be built with only interior walls adjoining other heated areas and, thus, avoid the use of any exterior walls subject to the temperature fluctuations of the Canadian seasons. This also means the archive room itself will have no windows and the papers will be well protected from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. Although Toronto is cold in the winter, hot in the summer and hats are recommended for sun protection, the papers of Fathers Lonergan and Crowe will enjoy a constant climate in the shade.

December 15th Update: One of the most interesting aspects of our building program is how the structural engineers are addressing the weight of our exhaustive collection of monographs, periodicals, dissertations and archival papers. Whether primary or secondary in their designation, these sources still add up in their accidents, and require a substantial structure to support them. Rather than reinforcing the floor to bear this load—an expensive option that might threaten the precious heritage ceilings in the Mansion’s principal rooms below—our imaginative engineers elected to hang the weight from a new beam hidden in the ceiling and supported by posts embedded in the load bearing walls. Although the shelving units in the archive room and the adjoining study space will appear to be well grounded on the floor, they will be suspended, economically, from the heavens—an approach most fitting for a community of scholars who appreciate transcendence, metaphor, and the difference between common sense and theory.

January 15th Update: The initial preparation of Fr. Frederick Crowe’s papers for their journey to the Christie Mansion is nearing completion. A catalogue of some twenty single-spaced pages prepared by John McCall details the books and academic papers given by Father Crowe to the Lonergan Research Institute and notes which books have been “fingered” with thoughtful annotations. After a review by Professor Michael Vertin, the books will be boxed for the move and the papers will be shifted from filing cabinets to acid free archival boxes. Great care is taken in this process to preserve the original context of the papers, a task assisted by an index prepared by Father Crowe – who himself has offered suggestions about ways graduate students might make fruitful use of his papers. The boxed papers will then be preserved, a final step that involves removing staples, paper clips and the use of acid free folders to group loose materials. Once the preservation of the papers is complete and the papers have arrived in their new home on the second floor of the Christie Mansion, generations of doctoral students will begin their investigations. Plumbing the thought of one of Fr. Lonergan’s principal collaborators, students will encounter another great thinker in his own right, who made significant contributions to a broad range of theological topics ranging from the Trinity to the Christian theology of interfaith dialogue.

February 15th Update: The Christie mansion has endured several renovations over its 100-year lifespan, accommodating first the changing needs of a prominent Toronto family famous for its cookie bakeries, next the religious life of contemplation and service espoused by the Sisters of St. Joseph, then the youthful liveliness of a groundbreaking women’s university residence, and now the scholarly requirements of an intellectual center for theological research and education. Like the precious parchment employed by medieval scribes, the skin of the building bears the scars and adornments of thoughtful re-conception and creative adaptation. Rather than selecting one moment in its rich history as a privileged reference for a program of uniform restoration, Roberto Chiotti, the principal of Larkin Architects, has elected to treat the building as a palimpsest of architectural detailing, preserving the evidence of evolving aesthetics and changing solutions to the practical demands of successive generations. Students of the dynamic thought of Father Lonergan, no doubt, will appreciate the sensible evidence of genetic development as well as the prospect of making their own contribution to an ongoing process of emergence.

March 15th Update: As a Jesuit in training Bernard Lonergan witnessed the economic and social turmoil of the 1930s. His youthful heart was set ablaze with a desire to respond to calamity with insight and compassion, a desire enkindled by the healing triumph of good over evil on the Cross. This burning desire led the young Lonergan to combine economic, social, cultural, anthropological and religious studies in his personal mission. He understood that the painful realities confronting the world community were complex and required a careful, trans-disciplinary response, a willingness to learn from the wisdom of human achievement and the humility to share the truth of faith. Few persons of his caliber and talent would have risked everything as he did in a broad program of study and writing that followed for the next fifty years. But was a young man of faith, hope and love, a youth who wanted to make a real difference in the lives of those who were afflicted by injustice and disoriented by belief. Those who have recognized Lonergan’s lifelong witness to the integration of faith and justice find themselves present to a world again racked by turmoil. As we entered into a period of economic recession and social unrest let us renew our commitment to careful thought and resolute action. And let us recognize in our own modest action of building a home for the fruit of Lonergan’s faithful intellectual labor a small witness of hope for ages to come.

April 15th Update: Every Tuesday morning, Regis President Joe Schner and I attend a site meeting in the wood paneled library of the Christie Mansion with the consultants and trades who are working diligently to ready our new home for the anticipated move in date of August 17th. In the differentiated flow of technical and common sense discourse, our contribution is quite transparent to all. With Pavlovian immediacy, Joe and I frown in unison at the slightest mention of “site conditions,” “contemplated change notices,” and, most alarming of all, “order of magnitude estimates.” But most recently our conversations have moved more happily into the selection of furniture, phone systems, and wall and floor finishes. Now we return to the relative safe haven of generously estimated allowances that, after responsible choices, afford found money to re-balance the budget. Here the challenge is to avoid the scourge of volatile, organic compounds - the cause of the odor associated with “new” products as they release noxious gases into a closed environment. Navigating the confluence of budgetary advance and decline, and praying constantly for final redemption, step by step, we are constructing a context that should prove healthy for archivists and archival papers. Please join your prayers to ours, and, if your circumstances allow, consider making your own contribution to our schedule of pledged donations and ongoing fund-raising activities.

May 15th Update: The past month has brought a new sense of urgency in the midst of the endless details of renovations and move preparations. Even as we look forward to leaving the limitations of our current situation behind, transcendence seems burdened by many specific demands for attention. The primer and finish coats glisten on the walls of each of our four rooms (eggshell, off-white). The trim work is being milled for the library (to match or not to match the existing). The floor finishes have been selected: carpet for the library and offices, quarry tile for the archive room. A new postal code had been obtained from the deepest recesses of Canada Post’s bureaucracy (100 Wellesley Street West, Toronto ON M5S 2Z5, effective August 24). The coolant line for the archive’s dedicated air handlers is wending its way to the roof top air conditioning unit. Furniture is being assembled (begged, borrowed or otherwise legally appropriated). Cable is being pulled to the wireless access point (CAT6, much preferred to CAT5e). UV sleeves have been “spec’ed” for the fluorescent tubes. Old computing equipment is being appreciated for the last time, having its memory wiped and dispatched to green e-recyclers. New cheques and stationary have been ordered. Vendors and benefactors are being advised of our new coordinates. The last of the Crowe papers are been placed in archival boxes. New shelving is being purchased for the library and archive. UV filtering blinds are being sourced for the library windows. Donors and staff are calling to get a peak at the work in progress. Amidst all these concrete occurrences, the galleys for Volume 11 The Triune God: Doctrines are being proof-read by Michael Shields and Danny Monsour. A most healthy dialectic of contraries thrives in Toronto.

June 16th (Final) Update: Our physical relocation to the heart of the University of Toronto’s campus has invited us to reflect about the vision that will guide the implementation of our mission for the next twenty years.

For the past twenty years, the Institute’s energies have been focused almost exclusively on the massive project of publishing the volumes of the Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan. With the financial support of the Malliner Charitable Foundation, editorial leadership of Fred Crowe and Bob Doran, the intellectual collaboration of Michael Shields, Pat Byrne, Bob Croken, Charles Hefling, Fred Lawrence, Philip McShane, and Danny Monsour, this undertaking has passed the half way point with building momentum and should be completed within the coming eight years. With the construction of a fireproofed and climate controlled facility, the challenge of preserving Father Lonergan’s papers will be complete. And thanks to the collaboration of Marquette University and the cooperation of the Malliner Charitable Foundation, the additional task of making the archival papers available to the scholarly community is now also proceeding.

With appropriate foresight, friends, staff and directors of the Institute have begun to reflect about future program directions and the resources needed to sustain our efforts for the next twenty years. Beyond maintaining our commitment to the preservation of Father Lonergan’s thought, our focus is expanding to place additional emphasis on the promotion, development and implementation of his significant intellectual contribution to the world.

Our new location offers a renewed opportunity to foster a trans-disciplinary outreach to one of the leading research universities in the world. Our board has approved the exploration of collaborative research with our colleagues at Regis College, the Toronto School of Theology, the University of Toronto and other institutions of higher learning. The vast richness of intellectual resources at the University of Toronto alone stretches literally from aboriginal studies to zoology, with 20 research and professional faculties, 64 specialized centers and institutes, 87 departments, and innumerable undergraduate and graduate programs. For a community of scholars that appreciates the distinction of general and special categories, we are truly moving to the heart of a body of extraordinary intellectual activity.

To locate the new location of the Lonergan Research Institute on the University of Toronto map, click here and look for RG: Regis College (New) at the corner of Queen’s Park Crescent East and Wellesley Street West, just north and east of the Provincial Legislature, and opposite the Whitney Block.

Link Photo: Solarium Skylight, Christie Mansion
Photo Credits: Teo Ugaban, S.J.