I first took a course at TMI back in 1984, when I probably should not have. I had a full-time job at a bank, was writing a weekly travel column for The Globe and Mail, and had more than enough to do.

The course was in economics, which I had already studied in grad school. But I enjoyed the stimulating discussions, and especially the contributions of a fellow student, Richard Willing. We were both from Ohio, had worked in Washington and in banking. He and I spent 32 wonderful years together, until his death in 2017.

I continued to take the occasional course at TMI, always relishing the intellectual challenge and congenial atmosphere. As an immigrant, it gave me a place where I felt I could fit in. This year I will be one of the leaders of a course on C.G. Jung’s Red Book. I’m a long-time member of the C.G. Jung Society of Montreal, and the author of a satirical play based on the Red Book that was presented at Concordia University in 2019.

Margaret Piton is a former financial and travel journalist and blogger, now concentrating on writing plays and playing tennis badly.

For those interested in continuous learning, there is no better place to learn, have deep conversations and make friends.

Cristina MacLean, LL.B., MPA, Family Life Educator.

The Thomas More Institute has played an important role in my life for fifteen years. In some ways, it has been a life-saver. As a result of my association with TMI I believe I have kept “connected” both intellectually and socially. I started taking courses at TMI in the years preceding my retirement, in part because I hoped to keep my brain active post-job, in part because I wanted to exchange with others about ideas and issues I had not had time to explore while working. I have not been disappointed. I have taken courses on music, the origins of the universe, nineteenth century male authors on women, the history of the middle ages, “noir” writers and film makers, an emperor of China highlighted in an exhibition at the MMBA…and more. The variety has been great. But so has the level of these courses. It is my view that those who work on curriculum at TMI must work hard to put together coherent sets of readings that stimulate in-depth discussion. Participants themselves are serious; in these courses because they are curious, participants come prepared to share, and to learn. They are helped by leaders who, in my experience, are generally very good at listening and at moving discussions forward. One result is that by the last day of the course when everyone shares food and drink, a real sense of companionship, of common accomplishment has been created. There is a sense of belonging to a community–and that is important.

Paul Hedlin was drawn to Quebec from Manitoba by the possibility of living in two languages and cultures, taught English and Humanities at Vanier College for many years, and now spends as much time on his farm in the Eastern Townships as he can.

I first came to TMI over a decade ago. As I was approaching retirement, I was in search of a venue to give new meaning and passion to my life. I have never looked back! Finding new acquaintances and friends, from so many different career backgrounds and a variety of ages, all of whom all share a love of learning, of questioning and of great conversation over topics of common interests has truly given new inspiration to my life.

Susan Anastasopoulos, TMI course designer and discussion leader for a decade. Formerly professor at Marianopolis College and Concordia University. Specialty: courses in International history.

I was somewhat at a loss when I retired from Vanier College after 40 plus years. How would I occupy myself in a meaningful way? Then I took my first class at TMI. Reading and reflecting on the texts leading up to each class anchored my week. I soon learned how much I enjoyed exploring new and relevant topics with a class of like-minded participants. I was especially happy to find my own voice in our class discussions. I made new friends. I had vowed never again to pin myself down to a work schedule but now, to my surprise, I find myself volunteering at TMI. TMI’s vibrant community is a great place to be – even online.

Judy MacDonald began her career teaching in a remote town in Tanzania. She later taught in Kingston, Jamaica. At Vanier, she developed various services for students including the Learning Centre, Language School, Math and Science Centre, and International Education, always trying to make these services as student-centered as possible.

My name is Pam Butler and I am a devoted member of the Thomas More community. My entire past was always focused on one endeavor at a time, from a professional ballet dancer for seven years, to an undergraduate degree in music and dance, to graduate work culminating in a Ph.D in Political Science, and then thirty-seven years of teaching at Marianopolis College. Meanwhile, my husband and I had four children which evolved, over time, into fifteen grandchildren. Then, a number of years ago, it was time to retire. I was so busy parenting, teaching, correcting essays, travelling, and keeping fit that I did not give any thought to what I might do in retirement. During the Xmas party of my final semester of teaching, I was invited to join a course at the Thomas More Institute and I readily agreed; I had no other plans except being engaged with my family and travelling, which I had been doing all my life. I took a history course in a part of the world I had never studied before. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the course but I immediately set my major retirement goals: in addition to travelling whenever I could, I wanted to learn more about subjects that I had never studied because my focus was always more narrowly set on whatever I was engaged in at the time. Every endeavor seemed to occupy my full attention. So, that was the beginning of being a participant, a leader, a course designer and finally, a member of the Thomas More Curriculum Committee. From the moment I walked down the steps of Marianopolis College for the last time, I had a new life centered on Thomas More.

Why do I find involvement in Thomas More so engaging? First of all, I continue to participate in and lead courses in a wide variety of subjects; I am always learning. Second, I find participants in the courses serious about learning as well. They prepare carefully for the various courses and thoroughly enjoy the issues of the week. We are surrounded by lifelong learners full of curiosity to understand new issues by reading and discussing them with their fellow classmates. Thirdly, I enjoy contributing to the Curriculum Committee. We are all ages as well as differing experiences and talents, but what we have in common is to create an exciting curriculum with stimulating teachers for the entire year. These are people I want to spend time with every week, led by an organized, respectful, and hard-working chair of our committee.
I always looked forward to attending our in-person meetings at the Institute but now that we are on Zoom, we all adjusted to that format as well. We always work very well as a team in both formats.

In short, I left Marianopolis with no regrets because I immediately created a new life. My dedication to my family, friends, travelling, and keeping fit have been extended by my involvement in Thomas More.

Pam Butler

I almost can’t believe that twenty years have passed since my TMI graduation, and almost thirty since that first evening when I walked through those gates on Atwater Avenue. I arrived early for what I thought was a lecture, so the circular seating seemed a little unorthodox. Heather (Stephens) had promised that I would enjoy the experience, but almost two hours later, I’d sunk low in my seat to avoid anyone’s eye contact. I thought that I might escape unnoticed when the woman on my left in the cashmere sweater and cameo brooch put one hand up with her palm out to stop everyone speaking. She pointed to me with the other.

“What about him, Olga? I think I want to hear what this kid here has to say about it,” she said. Both the leader and lady on my right nodded in agreement and beckoned me to speak. The course leader that night was Olga Sher, on my right was Lies Morgenstern and at my left, waiting for me to say something with her arms folded was Sophie Spiliotopoulos, who would become my great friend for life. The only detail of that first evening I can’t recall is the name of the book we discussed.

Charlotte Tansey once told me that she and Martin O’Hara never imagined when they started TMI that so many graduates would leave feeling far more eloquent. This still surprises me. I have been talking, writing and reading ever since.

After TMI Antonio Arch went on to McGill where he studied Public Relations. He has crafted messages and created content for a variety of organizations since. Before returning to studies to complete his MFA at the Manchester Writing School, he was the head copywriter for one of the world’s largest cruise lines. He currently lives in Manchester, England where he is pursuing a PhD.

I began taking courses at the Thomas More Institute eleven years ago. Nearly five years ago, I began discussion leading. I’ve also worked on committees and designed courses. In these various forms of involvement, I’ve found intellectual stimulation, shared focus, comradeship, and fun. The courses I’ve taken or been a leader in have introduced me to illuminating materials I wouldn’t have read on my own: philosophical works; ancient, early modern, and current political theory; fiction. When I’m on the premises, I enjoy the intermingling of staff and volunteers and the pervasive sense of being among people who are busy and dedicated yet tuned in to each other. TMI feels like home.

Rina Kampeas. In the mid-seventies I started a doctorate in English, planning on an academic career. Though I didn’t complete the doctorate but instead became a translator, I’ve never lost my pleasure in scholarship and theoretical thinking. I’ve been an activist for the union movement, the women’s movement, Quebec’s English-speaking community, and migrant/refugee causes. I’ve edited literary magazines and been a member of discussion groups and choirs. Nowadays, I find great satisfaction in contributing to TMI.

I have been participating in courses at TMI for the past few years. I really enjoy being a member of a community of learners. Engaging with other class members in reading, understanding, discussion, and analysis of course materials (along with finding in these groups a generous dose of humour, warmth, and fun) has really answered my needs as an adult student. The subject matter of courses is wide ranging and I often have difficulty selecting which course to take.

Marilyn Kaplow

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