On Saturday I had to say good-bye to Tony Bonta. I had met Tony at the start of my second year here, where he and I started chatting at the Department party at the opening of the school year and hit it off right away. Then he had vanished for a semester to finish a job back in Indiana before actually starting at Marquette. tony was one of those friends who you just didn't get to see enough of. One of the most dedicated workers I know, Tony made his presence felt all across Marquette and not just in our Department. While he was doing his work in historical theology, he also worked in campus ministry, administrative and library services. His administrative experience back out there in the "real world" was such that coming back to grad school had been a real step down for him. So Tony hung out with me and Kari-Shane a lot over my latter second year, before Kari-Shane moved on to her miracle, before-she-started-her-dissertation professorship at St. Benedict's and St. John's. On Saturday Tony and I went out to Vicki's, a diner he had introduced me to and which we both liked, in order to have our last hang-out before he left to take up the Directorship of Campus Ministry at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles while he writes his dissertation. I was startled to hear him give me credit for keeping him in the program at one discouraging point: another one of those moments where you have no idea the extent to which you're affecting another life. I remembered that hard conversation, sitting here, lounging in my living room: I had no idea it had really been that touch-and-go with his decision-making process. So he heard my latest news, and we looked toward those rare times in the future where we might pick up together again. But it was good to know that this will be one of those friendships that can just go on being relied upon.
Otherwise, I'm dissertating (An Ecclesiology of Charisms in the Work of Francis Sullivan) like mad: and it's sooooo fun after being overly-consumed by my teaching this last year to do such concrete work. Every day I get to see exactly what I've done, in lines and pages, instead of just knowing what I taught but being uncertain what it has then become (or not) in my students' heads. I'm going to enjoy this feeling for awhile. So every day I think Sullivan, pretty much all day, every day. And as it turns out, today was Frank Sullivan's 85th birthday, so I dropped him a congratulatory note, as well as asking him to answer a few minor clarification questions on the dissertation. I'm currently working on my biographical essay about him, and so I'm going through the interviews from last May in great detail.