Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte

Gerry Turcotte is president of Corpus Christi and St. Mark’s Colleges in Vancouver.

I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me

1 Corinthians 14: 11

I have lived between languages my whole life and have always been intrigued by their glorious complexity. As a young student of English I grew up academically being told there was one correct grammar, an appropriate accent (which I apparently didn’t have in English or French) and that spelling was locked in stone and correct or incorrect.

For individuals of a certain age, the cataclysmic impact of AI has been an existential threat for more than half a century. Many of us grew up with the haunting voice of the predatory artificial intelligence, HAL, from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, resonating ominously, and dispassionately, in our ears.

A few years ago — let’s say 20 — I watched as the police handled a disturbance. An elderly gentleman was standing in the middle of the sidewalk talking animatedly to an invisible friend. It seemed to be a delightful conversation, and the man actually excused himself to his imaginary friend when the authorities intervened.

I had the opportunity recently of joining a dynamic inter-faith panel to discuss the issue of social justice and the environment here in Vancouver. My fellow panelists included an Imam from the local Muslim association, a Rabbi from the local synagogue and a representatives from the Mennonite community. This was followed by panel discussions from public health officials, government representatives and even an unscheduled visit by David Suzuki.

On a recent visit to Rome as a member of the Canadian Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, I had the opportunity to visit a number of galleries and historic art projects, many of which were completed through the generosity and the work of the patrons and their supporters. This included the Hall of the Liberal Arts, the Scala Sancta or Holy Stairs and the Bramante Courtyard. The artistic and cultural artefacts owned by the Vatican are so numerous that they can only be accommodated in 54 museums, ranging from the Gallery of Maps to the Gregorian Egyptian Museum and the Gallery of Statues.

As a bilingual kid with a father who couldn’t speak English and a mother who couldn’t speak French, language always seemed to be a battleground. With parents always comically mangling each other’s language I often struggled in school to remember what was grammatically accurate versus what was commonly used at home. Franglais wasn’t in any dictionary I knew of.

As a member of the Canadian Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, I have had the opportunity to visit the Vatican Galleries many times over, including the famed Sistine Chapel, usually after hours once the tourists have left.

For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror.

1 Corinthians 13: 12

I had the pleasure recently of attending an international conference for Catholic post-secondary presidents, and I was inspired by the range and reach of the work we do to bring the joy of faith to the community through the critical lens of education. 

Recently, I noticed a height chart next to the exit door of my local wine shop. This isn’t the first time I’ve shopped there, but it’s the first time I’ve notice the 7-foot ruler, conspicuously glued to the door frame. 

The passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Dec. 31, 2022 marks a sad close to a tumultuous year, and the end to his life-long commitment to the Catholic Church.