Of First and Lasting Things


Convivium, 10 January 2019

Convivium Editor-in-Chief Father Raymond de Souza marks the 10th anniversary of the death of his mentor and inspiration, Father Richard John Neuhaus.

NEW YORK – Father Richard John Neuhaus died ten years ago here in his beloved New York, on January 8, 2009. His friends and colleagues gathered on Tuesday for a memorial Mass. At the reception afterwards, we traded stories and memories of a man important to me personally – and to the coming to be of Convivium.

Here and here are reflections I wrote when he died.

Regarding his role in the founding of Convivium, I wrote about that in our May 2012 print edition, our second full issue:

Born in the Ottawa Valley, Father Neuhaus made his life in New York. But he kept an eye on what was going on in Canada and saw a need for the project that we are launching. Father Neuhaus was an important figure in my life, and our last long conversation, in December 2008, was about this proposal for a new Canadian magazine on faith in our common life.

Father Neuhaus was enormously supportive. I supposed that he would be, for he had given the professional energies of almost his entire adult life to magazines – reading them in great number, writing for them, editing them, and in the case of the crown of his life’s work, First Things, founding them. …

“Raymond, if you want to advance an idea, write a book,” Father Neuhaus told me on that December evening. “But if you want to change a culture, you need a magazine. Because magazines are literally periodical, they create an ongoing community – readers, writers, editors, benefactors. And only communities can change cultures.” …

Our name is an homage to him and his work. I first met him in 1994, when I was a student in the annual seminar he taught in Kraków, Poland, together with Michael Novak, George Weigel and Russell Hittinger. Over the years he was gracious enough to make time for me as a young student and then a seminarian. We became friends, and when I was ordained a priest in 2002, he was kind enough to come to Kingston and preach the homily at my first Mass. In 2009, when he died, the circle turned, and I preached the homily at his funeral Mass.

Continue reading at Convivium: https://www.convivium.ca/articles/of-first-and-lasting-things