Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Father Thomas W. Gedeon, S.J., 1925-2005.

On my return from Marytown I was surprised and saddened to learn of the death of Father Tom Gedeon, one of the many great Jesuits I'd gotten to know up at Colombiere. A veteran retreat director who spent two decades at the helm of Retreats International, after his retirement Father Gedeon took up pottery - and became quite good at it. I always enjoyed viewing Tom's latest creations on my trips up to Colombiere; on my last day working there as part of my hospital experiment, I got to spend some time at the pottery wheel, ultimately producing a small bowl under Father Gedeon's patient direction. Tom Gedeon was a man would could turn working with clay into a spiritual discipline fusing creativity with contemplation. I'll miss him.

At Colombiere, Father Gedeon was also half of an unlikely duo that struck me as fine material for a short-subject documentary. Father Gedeon produced his pottery in a basement workroom which he shared with Brother Bruno Karpinski, a cigar-smoking former missionary who had spent half a century in India and Nepal. While Father Gedeon turned out a succession of glazed clay bowls, cups, jars and the like, Brother Karpinski produced (and, for that matter, continues to produce) shellacked wooden crosses and images of Jesus and Mary mounted on finished plaques. Father Gedeon and Brother Karpinski were as different in personality as they were in artistic medium and style. Where Father Gedeon was soft-spoken and deliberative, Brother Karpinski was talkative and gregarious. Though they differed in life history, artistic sensibility and temperament, Father Gedeon and Brother Karpinski were bound together not simply by the fact that they worked in the same space but by a common vocation as Jesuits. Taken as a pair, the two men and their artistic output offered concrete evidence of the diversity and universality that characterize the Society of Jesus. Though Brother Karpinski continues to produce his wooden creations, without Father Gedeon working nearby at his pottery wheel things won't be quite the same. AMDG.

2 Comments:

At August 13, 2005 11:50 AM, Blogger Jonathan Dawe said...

I was very shocked to hear about Fr. Gedeon's passing. I fondly remember working with him during our visits to Colombiere, being taught by his patience to create a coffee cup for my legal drug habit. I'm sure he's either walking around in heaven, or he's received a divinely ordained upgrade to his little motorized scooter. Either way, an inspirational Jesuit to be revered.

 
At August 14, 2005 9:34 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Jon -
If heaven is the way many of us would like it to be, I suspect Tom is gamboling about sans scooter. However, on the same theory I'm sure he can keep the scooter if he wants. Then again, as a sometime proponent of what may be called the 'stupified by the beatific vision' view of the afterlife, I'm tempted to say people don't care about such mundane things when they get 'up there.' Regardless, I'm sure our mutual friend is in the company of the saints.

 

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