In Memoriam: John Dourley, 1936-2018

A Personal Tribute by Daryl Sharp
Father John Patrick Dourley Jungian analyst and Oblate priest, dies at age of 82, June 25, 2018.

John DourleyI heard yesterday that Father Dourley had died in his analyst chair at home in Ottawa, apparently of a heart attack. This news is a real shock. He was my own age (well, a few months younger; June to my January), a treasured friend for some seventy years. We met accidentally when we were 12; our families both had cottages in a suburb of Ottawa. The next time I was aware of John was in 1975 when he showed up at the Zurich Jung Institute, where we both trained as analysts. His graduate thesis was C. G. JUNG AND PAUL TILLICH: The Psyche As Sacrament, the first of four tomes by him that Inner City Books published and he modestly claimed were unreadable. Later John joined the Ontario Association of Jungian Analysts, and often stayed with me in Toronto for local meetings.

John had some health problems, but death did not seem imminent. All in all, John’s demise is an unexpected but timely reminder of my own mortality. I spoke to him just two weeks ago and he was his usual irreverent and chipper self.

Although John was sometimes uncomfortable in the bosom of the Catholic Church, he was able to reconcile his priestly calling with Jung’s tenets, and he wrote eloquently of them both in published books and academic lectures in North America and abroad. As an Oblate priest and introverted thinking type, he never abandoned either his early Jesuitical training or his midlife love of Jung, though to his skeptical peers they might appear to be irreconcilable opposites. This dissonance he explored in his next book, THE ILLNESS THAT WE ARE: A Jungian Critique of Christianity. I often asked him how he escaped sanctions from the Vatican. He said he was “too far under the radar.” Another time he said the Vatican wouldn’t know where Ottawa is.

John was a very human priest, not at all “holier than thou.” He was witty; he was kind and generous. Everything he said, did or wrote was authentic. His favorite tipple was Canadian Rye whiskey, usually in moderation, but during our training he was more than once found wandering in a drunken stupor and rescued by his Canadian fellow students (Fraser Boa, Marion Woodman, Chuck Schwartz and myself). He was always grateful to us, but never embarrassed by such events, which he wryly welcomed as a chance to become familiar with his alcoholic puer shadow, otherwise kept on an intellectual tight leash. I mention this with great affection, to show that John was equally at home, equally authentic, in pulpit or pub. He admired women, but true to his vows he admired at a distance, for which we gently teased him. Somewhat in retaliation he wrote LOVE, CELIBACY AND THE INNER MARRIAGE, which again Inner City Books published, showing that his clerical constraints were compatible with Jung’s concept of individuation. Years later, his reservations about the Church were thoughtfully explored in the last book of his I published, A STRATEGY FOR A LOSS OF FAITH.

One time when he came to Toronto I devilishly took him to a ritzy “executives’ club” where nubile young babes danced naked and would sit on your lap for $50. John took it all in unfazed, and the joke was on me when I lost my precious Clint Eastwood hat to an emboldened lady dancer. The women thought John was real cute and urged him to buy a lap dance, but stopped bugging him when I told them he was a man of the cloth. John admonished me for that, saying he could handle himself and added with a twinkle, ”It is a ripe ground for redemption.”

Indeed, Father John always seemed to be twinkling like a Welsh gnome or an Oz-like wizard, whether skiing in the Alps or listening intently to a lecture by Marie-Louise von Franz on the compensatory eruption of Thomas Aquinas’s unconscious at the end of his long life (as persuasively argued in her AURORA CONSURGENS), which incidentally, in all conscience, John could not accept.

John Patrick “Father of All” Dourley was a singular character: more, he had character. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him, especially his colleagues and analysands.

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