By M.C. Havey, Archivist
Five members of Fr. Matthew Meehan’s family made history themselves at the North American Redemptorist history conference in October when they attended a session devoted to their uncle’s Redemptorist life and media career.
In attending the October 1 afternoon session, they were the first family members to be present for papers about a Redemptorist relative in the seven conferences of the Institute of the Redemptorist History of North America.
The Meehans contributed reminiscences of their Uncle Matt during the discussions following papers by Dr. Mark McGowan, highly-acclaimed history professor at the University of Toronto and Edmonton-Toronto archivist M.C. Havey.
“He was more like a grandfather and taught us all to ski, drive and enunciate,” noted Anne Marie Meehan, an investment advisor for BMO Nesbitt Burns, who travelled from her home in Kelowna, BC, for the event.
Anne Marie was accompanied by four brothers: Joseph, a lawyer practising in Greenwich, Connecticut; Peter, Professor of History and chair, School of Liberal Arts and Academic Partnerships at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, at Seneca/York University, Toronto; Thomas, a criminal lawyer of Windsor, ON and Michael, an account executive in Toronto with London Life Insurance. A brother Paul who lives in Vancouver was unable to attend.
The Meehans recalled the road trips that Fr. Meehan would take the six children on to give their parents, Dr. Joseph and Yvonne Meehan, a respite. Squeezed into Fr. Meehan’s car, they became acquainted through the travels with Redemptorist sites in Montreal, Brockville and Holy Redeemer College in Windsor.
An article about Fr. Meehan has been published in the 2014 journal of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association under the title of “A Master of Religious Media: the Career of Rev. Matthew Meehan, C.Ss.R. 1947-1998.”
At the scenic Notre Dame Retreat Centre in Canandaguia, NY, other conference papers were delivered about the legendary preaching of Fr. Joseph Nanton at the Mission Church in Boston, scholars Frs. Francis Cornell, Louis Hartman and Francis Xavier Murphy as well as the shrine churches of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre and Mission Church in Boston.
Dr. Kathleen Sprows Cummings, director of the Cushwa Center for American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, outlined the canonization process and the historical context of United States saints, including St. John Neumann. A Redemptorist Trivial Pursuit contest, organized by Fr. Rich Luberti, gave rise to laughter and groans in the search for the correct answers.
Fr. Carl Hoegerl, scholar, professor, archivist of the Baltimore Province and pioneer member of the North American Historical Institute, received the Seelos Award for his accomplishments in Redemptorist history, including research for the cause of canonization of Blessed Francis Seelos in the 1970s.