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May 10, 2001 Fr. Marc Gervais: Done to a turn




Marc Gervais

Father Marc Gervais


by Barbara Black

It’s 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 schmoozing skills.

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. Gervais’s 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 Loyola’s 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 Sunday’s 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.