Fr. William (Bill) Lonc died on November 27, at Rene Goupil House in Pickering Ontario. He was in his 85th year of life and had lived 60 years in religious life. Fr. Lonc was born in London, Ontario on May 5, 1930, son of Gregory Lonc and Veronica Lewickie. He studied physics at Sir George Williams University in Montreal before he entered the Jesuit novitiate on September 7, 1954. He entered the Polish Province of the Society of Jesus but transferred to the Canadian Province a few years later. He followed the usual Jesuit education with the addition of physics and mathematics. He earned a doctorate in Physics and a license in Philosophy from Saint Louis University in 1965. He was ordained a priest on June 1, 1968.
Fr. Lonc had for many years served as a professor of Physics at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and his academic specialization was in the areas of astrophysics and microwave technology. He wrote a high school textbook on radio-physics, which is still used today, and had served for several years as a visiting short-term teacher at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, California. Fascinated by amateur radio, he soon became an expert in it. In his capacity as a researcher, he was one of the few people to gain access to the environmentally sensitive Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia.
He had a sabbatical year in 1990-1991, and spent it in Tucson, Arizona, with the Vatican Observatory team. He was dedicated to reflections on the relationship between science and religion in the modern age. He received honours and professional recognition for his work.
Since his retirement from the Physics Department at Saint Mary’s, this Renaissance man worked assiduously in translating over 64 historical works by Lucien Campeau and other French Canadian Jesuit sources into English. Carrying on the work initiated by others, Fr. Lonc’s areas of specialization included the early history of the Society of Jesus in the Maritimes, in Quebec and in 19th century Ontario. Because of his involvement in this ongoing project, he was very knowledgeable on the era of contact between Europeans and native peoples in New France. His translations are excellent and are making a significant contribution to historical scholarship and Canadian studies.
As an avid driver and long-term resident of Nova Scotia, he had an extraordinary knowledge of the topography and settlement of the province. He was the faithful chaplain to the Sisters of St. Joseph, both at their motherhouse in Willowdale and at their new infirmary in downtown Toronto. He moved to Canadian Martyrs’ Residence in Toronto in 2006 and to Rene Goupil House, Pickering in 2014.