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People and organizations
University of St Michael's College Archives

Dewart, Leslie

Leslie Sutherland Dewart (1922-2009) was born Gonzalo Gonzales Duarte in Madrid, Spain but was raised in Cuba. At the age of 19, he came to Canada with the intention to join the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a pilot in bomber-reconnaissance missions during WWII. After five years of service, Duarte gained Canadian citizenship and changed his name to Leslie Dewart to reflect this development.

Dewart enrolled at the University of Toronto and in 1951 received his Honours BA in Psychology, in 1952 his MA in Philosophy, and in 1954 his PhD in Philosophy. After a brief posting in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Detroit (1954-1956), Dewart returned to the University of Toronto where he was employed for the rest of his career. Initially, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St. Michael’s College (also referred to as USMC), but in 1961 was promoted to Associate Professor and was also cross-posted to the Department of Philosophy at the School of Graduate Studies. In 1968 he became a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at USMC wherein he was involved in the Faculty of Theology (1968-1988), the Institute of Christian Thought (1969-1979), and the Graduate Centre for Religious Studies (1976-1988). In 1979, Dewart obtained his L.L.B. from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1980. After his retirement in 1988, Dewart wrote legal briefs for Harris & Jones Law Firm as well as continuing to lecture and supervise students in the Department of Religious Studies as a Professor Emeritus.
Dewart’s philosophical specialization was the understanding of the nature of consciousness, which he explored within humanity’s development of religion and language. Dewart was a prolific writer, having written 31 articles, 8 paper contributions to collected works, and 5 books during his life: Christianity and Revolution: The Lesson of Cuba (Herder & Herder Inc., 1963), The Future of Belief (Herder & Herder Inc., 1966), The Foundations of Belief (Herder & Herder Inc., 1970), Evolution and Consciousness: The Role of Speech in the Origin and Development of Human Nature (University of Toronto Press, 1989). His sixth book, Hume’s Challenge and the Renewal of Modern Philosophy, was published posthumously by his widow, Doreen Dewart in 2016.

Dewart’s other appointments included: Chair of the University of Toronto Combined Departments of Religious Studies (1970-1971); associate editor of Continuum (1964-1970); associate editor of Internationale Dialog Zeitschrift (1967-1974); associate editor of Concurrence (1968-1970); member of the editorial board of Studies in Religion-Sciences réligieuses (1970-1980); Public Affairs Editor of Insight: A Journal of Catholic Opinions; member of the advisory board for the Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning (1974-1978).

O'Gara, Margaret

  • Person
  • 1947-2012

Margaret O’Gara (1947-2012) was a regular member of the Faculty of Theology, University of St. Michael’s College, from 1976 to 2012. She obtained her B.A. in English and Philosophy at Trinity College in Washington, DC in 1969, followed by her M.A.R. in Theology at Yale Divinity School in 1971. She completed her Ph.D. in Theology at USMC in 1980 and was promoted to Assistant Professor. She became Associate Professor in 1985, Professor in 1998, and Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Chair in Systematic Theology in 2007.

O’Gara’s theological specialty was ecumenical theology, the personally engaged study of the divisions between the Christian churches for the sake of overcoming them. Besides her teaching, research, writing, and extensive public lecturing, she served on five official national or international dialogues between the Roman Catholic Church and other churches: the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (1976-93); the Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic International Commission for Dialogue (1983-2012); the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue (1994-2012); the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission for Unity (1995-2007); and the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (2008-2012). She was a member of Bridgefolk, a North American organization for dialogue between Roman Catholics and Mennonites (2002-2012). She served as president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists (1987-89) and the Catholic Theological Society of America (2007-2008). She was a member of the Toronto Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission (1988-2012). She was a board member of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research (1990-2012). She served as the anglophone theological advisor to the delegation from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at the World Synod of Bishops (2001). And she was chair of the Theology Department, Toronto School of Theology (2003-2005).

Besides roughly 80 articles, O’Gara published three books: Triumph in Defeat: Infallibility, Vatican I, and the French Minority Bishops (Catholic University of America Press, 1988), The Ecumenical Gift Exchange (Liturgical Press, 1998) and No Turning Back: the Future of Ecumenism (Liturgical Press, 2014).

Synan, Edward A.

  • VIAF ID: 94342297
  • Person
  • 1918-1997

Edward Aloysius Synan was born on April 13, 1918. He graduated from Seton Hall College (South Orange, NJ) in 1938. He studied theology at the American College at the Catholic University of Louvain, but returned to North America at the start of the Second World War. He completed his studies at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) in 1942, and was also ordained to the priesthood in 1942. Fr. Synan served as a chaplain in the United States Air Force from 1944-1948, and then returned to his studies at the University of Toronto. He graduated with an M.A. in 1950, and a PhD in 1952, both in Philosophy. He also earned the License in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in 1951.

Fr. Synan then taught philosophy at Seton Hall University from 1952 to 1959. He returned to Toronto in 1959, where he stayed until his death in 1997. While in Toronto, he taught in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St. Michael's College, at the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, and at the Pontifical Institute. He served as President of the Pontifical Institute from 1973 to 1979, and also served as Acting President during the 1989-1990 term.

Fr. Synan died on August 3, 1997.