by Barbara Black
Its safe to say that Marc Gervais has been to the Cannes Film Festival
more often than any other priest.
That fact was not lost on the 145 friends and colleagues who gathered
on May 3 at the annual Loyola Dinner to roast the popular professor for
his 50 years in the priesthood. Nor were his sharp elbows
on the hockey rink, his prowess on the tennis court and his world-class
A distinguished scholar, film consultant, communications critic and author
of books about Paolo Pasolini (1972) and Ingmar Bergman (1999), he considered
his work in film, media, and culture as a ministry. He brought to it not
only a Christian witness, but depth, breadth and professionalism.
Gervais was born in Sherbrooke, the second child of Sylvia Mullins and
Superior Court Justice Césaire Gervais, and raised in a thoroughly
bilingual household that was filled with warmth and culture.
Indeed, his lifelong passion for film may have stemmed from the intervention
of his beloved grandmother, Lily Mullins, who, in spite of the laws preventing
children under 14 from entering cinemas, frequently stole off with her
young companion to spend many happy hours together at the movies.
He graduated from Loyola College in the dynamic class of 1950, then started
the 13-year program to become a Jesuit. The historic compatibility of
the Society of Jesus with high culture led him to France, where he studied
film aesthetics at the Sorbonne and obtained a doctorate in 1979.
A founding member of Lonergan University College, Dr. Gervaiss wit,
good humour and intellectual commitment have made him one of the most
respected and popular teachers on the west-end campus.
He has touched many lives in his 30 years as a professor of Communications
Studies. While he played an active role in the creation of Concordia University,
he played a strong role in preserving and defending Loyolas humanist
tradition. Among the many Gervais alumni who have gone to success in the
entertainment industry are Denys Arcand and Hana Gartner.
Columnist and film reviewer Bill Brownstein attended the dinner, and wrote
an entertaining account of it in last Sundays Gazette.
Among the speakers who fondly twitted Gervais in speeches and a short
tribute were director John Kent Harrison (Beautiful Dreamers), producer
Kevin Tierney, former colleague Donat Taddeo and Loyola High School principal
Father Eric MacLean.