John was a former Jesuit, quite renowned in the Toronto area as a retreat director. In retirement he settled on the Island and it was through my sister-in-law Jane, who was visiting with Mary McCann, that I first met John and his wife Lynn. I later met John again in a discussion group that was viewing a series of lectures by Brian Swimme on the Cosmos. I felt a strong attraction to John – his words came from a depth of spiritual peace and wisdom, and not having had an elder brother I imagined that this could be my elder sibling of choice. Good fortune came again to me when I found myself with John in a discussion group which met all last year.
In early September John was having some swallowing problems which was at first thought to be some type of reflux problem. Some testing showed the problem to be far more serious, a cancer tumour in his lung. Our group gathered with John one Sunday to shower him with brotherly affection – we prayed with him, and it was my privilege to anoint John. I baked a large scone which we shared in eucharistic style prayer – not in imitation of another ritual, but breaking bread with John and entering into the struggle of his life. John showed us a photo which he said he wanted displayed at his memorial “if” we were to get to that time. Two days later in great pain he was admitted to the Nanaimo hospital and less than two weeks later John peacefully surrendered with the words “lift me up”.
I grieve the loss of this elder brother that I had for such a brief time – but his presence will influence me for the rest of my life. He was that type of a person. I include the obituary that was published in the Globe and Mail on Sept 29, 2012.
John Albert Haley
photo of John taken by Brian MIddleton, artist on Vancouver Island, used with permission
This gentle man of God has peacefully journeyed home on September 20, 2012. This sudden, yet graced, death from cancer leaves so many loved ones clinging to precious memories.
Germaine (Dionne) and William Haley gifted us with John on October 3, 1935 in his beloved Fort Fairfield, Maine.
John so loved his family and friends :his sister, Alice and family in Switzerland, his many cousins “back home” and so many friends across this country.
John’s covenant with God brought him to the Jesuits in 1955. For many years, John served as a spiritual director, especially at Loyola Retreat House (Guelph). John shared this lifelong ministry with people of all walks of faith.
God covenanted John in marriage to his beloved, Lynn in 1989. Together they have lived, loved and laughed for 23 years as they have served their God. Lynn , John and their dogs were quite the family!
John is cherished by his second family: Phyllis (Mom2), Tony, Nancy, Bob and family and Joe (Lukian) and family. A precious friend to both, Maureen, will always treasure their time together.
Over the years, John served on the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, supported the work of Romero House, worked at the Southdowne Institute (Aurora), and recently in Nanaimo has richly contributed to the work of the Bethlehem Retreat Centre, the Edgewood Institute and Hospice.
John loved to pray, to sing and to play. A special thank you to the Tidesmen Barbershop Chorus (Nanaimo) and to his many good friends for so enriching his later life.
A mass of the Resurrection will be held on October 3, 2012 at 10AM at the Bethlehem Retreat Centre (Nanaimo) to celebrate “this good and faithful servant”.