Thank you, Ellen Aitken: Updated

I posted this originally in 2014, when I first learned of the tragic death to very aggressive cancer on June 14 of that summer of Ellen Bradshaw Aitken. This post is a slightly updated “remembering again,” adding a few more links that have appeared in the interim (see below). Ellen was an ordained Anglican/Episcopal priest, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, and a scholar in the connections between classical traditions and early Christian history. She was also instrumental in helping the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to shape its work in Faith and Globalisation, now present at McGill and in over 30 universities worldwide. Read the Tony Blair Foundation’s tribute. Read more about the Foundation’s Faith and Globalisation Initiative, and its Teaching Network.

I first met Ellen in the year we both began our studies at Harvard Divinity School. We shared a heritage of families who had been early Americans/Canadians forced into political/economic exile and torn identities across the same border. At conferences we would always share a few words and I was ever encouraged by her peace and the way she radiated quiet wisdom. I saw her last at about 4 AM one Easter morning a few years ago, when she and her husband had driven down from Montreal for the annual holy week celebrations and Easter vigil/resurrection service at the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Cambridge, Mass, where we were both members of the Fellowship. Here is a link to a 2011 sermon she preached at SSJE, “Reflections on a Rule of Life” which concludes with her fitting call for “sharing in the mystery of death and resurrection.”

View the online memorial tribute to Ellen from her colleagues and friends. Also another here from the Episcopal Church Foundation.

View her 1982 thesis from Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, and a tribute by her former teacher, Professor Gregory Nagy.

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