My name is Randy Boyagoda and I'm here to welcome you to the vigil reception for Shane.
Thank you everyone for coming. I want to thank in particular and recognize in particular the Beal family—Erik, Lisa, [Evan], and Heidi—close family and friends as well. [Evan] made a particular journey. Some have come from all the way across the ocean; [Evan] came all the way from McGill.
This is UofT everybody. [LAUGHTER]
But [Evan], it's OK, because we know that your dad went to Middlebury—great school—and your mom went to McGill.
How do I know this?
Here's how I know this:
About two years ago, this very week, we had a donor event at the Bank of Montreal, up overlooking the city. And we were, you know, we were all there, and we identified some students who were particularly demonstrative of all the great things happening at St. Mike's. No big surprise that Shane was one of the students we invited to come to this event.
We go there, and there's a lot of donors, and alumni, and it's this great event, lots of staff, faculty, etc.…and the Cardinal is there in his capacity as the chancellor of the University of St. Michael's College. He's dressed in his regalia; there's a certain amount of blast radius around the cardinal—people don't kind of wander right in.
Unless you're Shane. [LAUGHTER]
Shane walks right up to His Eminence and says, "Can I get a selfie?" [LAUGHTER]
So then he takes a selfie with the cardinal and archbishop of the city, and then right away steps away. He starts typing, so then I say, "Shane, what are you doing?"
Then he says, "I'm just sending my mom a text. 'You ever take pictures like this at McGill?'" [LAUGHTER]
And so therefore, I think it's OK to have some people from McGill here today. I think Shane already got you on that one.
So welcome to the Shook Common Room. As I mentioned a moment ago, this is where, in many ways, began university in the Gilson Seminar in Faith and Ideas. We will hear from students from that founding class (the class identified a number of students [to speak on their behalf])—we'll hear from them. Then you're going to hear more generally from a series of people whose desire to speak with us today demonstrates the great breadth and reach of Shane's presence on our campus during his time with us.
You'll hear from: students the Gilson Seminar; from Kristy Wheaton from the library, where Shane worked as part of his many activities around here; from some other St. Mike's students who knew him well and are going to, together, speak to their memories of him; and then at the end (as I understand it) Shane's mother, Lisa, is going to offer some remarks.
Thank you very much, Aloysius and Francesco.
I just want to say one other thing about Shane in a Gilson-related context for now, and something that I checked in with his family about.
We're hearing about his intensity, his excitement for all things. For those of you that have some connection to the Gilson Seminar, you know that we do this thing called Dodgeballs and Meatballs, where—maybe once a month or so—we get together, and we throw dodgeballs at each other and then we go eat some meatballs together afterwards.
Shane loved this. Shane really, really loved this, because Lisa reminded me that Shane felt bad during the first season of Dodgeballs and Meatballs because he hit me in the face [LAUGHTER] playing dodgeball. And I think I must have been mildly concussed [LAUGHTER] because I don't remember this at all.
This continues as a tradition, and now that we have three classes with more to come, we're building into it what we call an alumni game where, once a year, the different classes will come together and play. Given how much Shane loved every part of what he was doing here including this—with his parents' permission—we've decided to, from now on, have the alumni game award the winning team the Shane Beal Bowl. We figured he would probably get a kick out of that.
Well beyond Gilson, Shane was an active member of our community. You would see him volunteering with the friends of the library at the book sale, and he was indeed somebody who worked at the library. To speak to Shane's life as it relates to his work at the Kelly Library, I'd like to invite one of his colleagues from there, Kristy Wheaton, to speak now.
Thank you very much, Kristy.
We're all getting this sense of Shane in these contexts, and we're seeing just how they keep expanding and expanding. Well beyond life in one seminar or in the library, Shane was, in a sense, kind of a big man on campus. You kind of saw him everywhere, whether it was carting around copies of The Mike, or wondering around St. Joseph's St. reading a book like this at top speed not worrying where he was going. [LAUGHTER]
Thank you very much. As a university administrator, let me just say how struck I am—how grateful and impressed I am—for all that we heard from colleagues and then from students, to have this composure and this capacity to speak about Shane's memory but then to put them in these much larger contexts.
You know, everyone keeps saying how much they enjoyed Shane's capacity to debate. Not when you're his professor, folks. [LAUGHTER]
I'd be going, going, going and I can just feel this centre of gravity over here; Shane's hand is going up… There we go, here we go. [LAUGHTER]
We're going to hear in a moment from Lisa, then I'm going to invite Fr. Kevin Belgrave perhaps to complete our time together afterwards with a short prayer.
With that, I just wanted to offer one personal memory, both as an individual, as a professor, but also as a person.
One of the big things we do in Rome is we go on something called a Scavi Tour, where you go under St. Peter's, and you go down, down, down into this dark and fascinating and difficult place, and you see eventually see what is—by both pious tradition and by archeological science—are the bones of St. Peter. It is physically demanding; it is spiritually demanding; and it is intellectually demanding, all at once.
And then you emerge in St. Peter's itself, under the great dome. You are so overwhelmed at this point, and two years in a row now I've had this experience where I go outside—you know, kind of the great front steps of St. Peter's, kind of looking down the [consundeazioni?] with the obelisk, meet me at the obelisk right there—and I see almost always all of my students dazed and confused. They're just sort of wandering around—because it's too much! They're just overwhelmed with all that they've just taken in.
And I can remember, when we went two years ago, all these students kind of just vaguely wandering around, trying to process… Well, I said, "You've got about an hour or two hours before we do something else, so you know, take some time, get a coffee, you know—"
ZZZZZZ. Here comes Shane, just motoring straight out of St. Peter's.
And I said, "Shane, what are you doing?"
And he said, "Well, we've got a couple hours, right?"
And I said, "Yeah."
And he said, "Well, I'm going to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva."
And I said, "Why?"
And then he did that thing—you can all imagine this—he kind of grinned and went, "Really?" [LAUGHTER]
He was disappointed in me! [LAUGHTER]
And I said, "Well, why?"
And he said, "Well, the bones of St. Catherine of Siena are buried there."
And I said, "Oh, well do you have a particular devotion to St. Catherine of Siena?"
And then again, he kind of goes—kind of grinning a little bit but also kind of disappointed in me—and then he said, “I’m really worried about Europe. I’m worried about the future of Europe. And, you know, Catherine of Siena, she’s the patron [saint] of Europe, so I’m going to go there!”
How is this not obvious, everybody? [LAUGHTER]
And I can remember that time thinking, as a professor, what more could you ask of from a student? To be that fully engaged: mind, heart, feet, head—completely, fully engaged by what he’s learning and what he’s experiencing around him. But then as a person! To be so fully engaged: what an example it is for me, and what an example it is for us.
I think that’s really what I’ve certainly heard in so many of the comments about his energy, about his intensity…but at base—and this is really what we should be thankful for, both to God and then to his parents—for the year[s], for the time we had with Shane. It was a gift for us to have that. We’re very, very grateful to have had this time with Shane. So thank you—thank God, and thank you, Beal family—for giving us this time with your remarkable Shane.
So now I’d like to invite Lisa to offer some remarks.
I think some… [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE]
So in a moment I think we can perhaps mingle and spend a little time chatting more directly with each other, but it seems to me kind of fitting as a way to end our formal time together, to end it with a prayer.
And I’d like to invite Fr. Kevin Belgrave, the chaplain of the Gilson Seminar, who spent a lot of time with Shane in Rome, too, to offer a closing prayer.