Pierre Hyacinth Conway, O.P.
Born: October 23, 1915
Professed: October 9, 1935
Ordained: June 5, 1941
Died: January 23, 2006
Pierre Conway combined a brilliant and penetrating mind in his dedication to the search for truth and in his capacity to understand and explain the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, with a loving and compassionate heart which enabled him to recognize in everyone he met – everyone – the very image of Jesus Christ.
This amazing Dominican who could analyze so profoundly the relationship between philosophy and science, who could produce such works as The Square Universe of Science, and his Manifesto — which, in his own words, set forth the difference between Demonstrative and Dialectical Reasoning as Illustrated in the Pythagorean Theorem — was at the same time a genuinely humble and simple friar who never lost his total dedication to those most in need, whether materially or spiritually. His admiration of and dedication to the principles of the saintly Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in the Catholic Worker movement in its earliest years enabled Pierre, even in the midst of his prodigious research and writing, to be always aware of the plight of the poor.
Throughout his long service in the Province, Pierre was for several years a professor of philosophy at Providence College, Ohio Dominican, and Molloy College among others. During those teaching years, Pierre Conway gave himself generously to the service of the Dominican Sisters and to very many members of the Dominican Laity as chaplain and guide for several Chapters of the Lay and Clerical Fraternities. He is still warmly remembered for his presentations to the Aquinas Circle.
It was in 1977 that Pierre was invited by the then Regent of Studies to come to the Dominican House of Studies. His research and writing about his beloved St. Thomas continued for as long as his failing health permitted. And his willingness “to assist in the work of the House in whatever way he could” became boundless. As expressed in the touching tribute to Pierre on their web-site, the Student Brothers saw in Pierre the model of the ideal Dominican: faithful in prayer, constant in example, open to listen, sensitive and wise in counsel, humble in service. As Guestmaster for many years, Pierre served the community and the members of the Province with extraordinary efficiency and generosity, not an easy task in a House of this size and complexity. Yet, whenever you arrived, you would find on the bulletin board the number of your room and on your door a sign of welcome in his unmistakable and inimitable hand.
But that was his visible service. What was known by perhaps only a few, was that Pierre took it upon himself to provide help for the poor who came to the door for food or who sought shelter, for he never lost the capacity to see Jesus in the most abject, a lesson he learned well from Dorothy Day. Often when his own monthly allowance was exhausted, Pierre borrowed from one of his Brothers for the poor, always careful to pay him back in due time.
V. Rev. Raymond Daley, O.P., was the celebrant and homilist at a Memorial Mass that was celebrated at the House of Studies on February 1, 2006 because, in a final and typical act of total service to others, Pierre had earlier, with permission, decided to donate his organs to medical science. A moving testimony to the love, affection and admiration in which Pierre was held by his Brothers here is the manner in which they cared for him in his final days, taking turns by his bedside night and day, praying with him, and offering the ministry of presence. Then, after he had gone to the Lord, everyone in the community shared in gently wrapping Pierre’s frail body in linen for its journey to the hospital lab.