Well done, good and faithful servant.
When Monsignor Edward Duncan died in California last week at the age of 96, it marked the passing of one of the grand figures in the history of the University of Illinois.
He was the longtime director of the St. John's Catholic Newman Center at the UI, the individual most responsible in creating that institution as it exists today. He was maybe even better known as the decades-long chaplain for UI sports teams, a man who would be seen walking the sidelines at football games wearing both his priest's collar and a cap touting his allegiance to the Fighting Illini.
As both a leading figure on the campus and in the community, Monsignor Duncan became one of the better-known personages in an area filled with oversized characters.
Most important, however, were the mentoring relationships he developed with UI students over the course of decades. He served in many roles — father figure, friend, teacher, disciplinarian, patient listener and spiritual shepherd. In those many roles, Duncan helped shape the lives of untold numbers of young people.
Monsignor Duncan came to the priesthood with a most unusual background. He was born to a family of astounding wealth, his father building a fortune in a variety of businesses including banking, insurance and construction. Father Duncan drove a Cadillac, but lived in an apartment at Newman Hall and donated generously to many local organizations and university programs.
In just one example of his status, Monsignor Duncan was just one of 15 people to receive the UI's presidential medallion.
Although long-retired and in failing health, Monsignor Duncan remained an iconic figure to long-time residents of the UI community. He devoted his life to the Newman Center and the UI, giving much, asking for very little and winning wide respect for his devotion.