William McNamara, better known as “Abba Willie” for the past decade, died on March 31, 2015 at age 89. The Meditations for Lent from his essay on “The Desert Experience,” which I edited again three months ago for Facebook and our web site, serve well as a tribute to the man who was our mentor during our monastic years in the Spiritual Life Institute. You may read the obituary here, written by his older brother.
The quotation from Fr. Dave Denny is taken from an essay he wrote in 2001, commemorating Abba Willie’s 50th Anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. You may read that full article here.
For many years, we lived at the Spiritual Life Institute’s Nova Nada Hermitage on three beautiful lakes deep in the woods of Kemptville, Nova Scotia. Every spring, sometime during Lent or Easter Week, pairs of loons returned to nest on the lakes. Abba Willie often said that when he died, he would return as one of those loons.
In 1987, Fr. Dave drew this loon for the cover of our magazine, Desert Call. It’s a good symbol for the resurrected Abba Willie, for the Resurrection we celebrate this Easter season, for the resurrection that awaits us all.