Rev. John Dolan, a devout Tommies fan and professor at St. Thomas University from 1987 until 2012, passed away on Feb. 5, 2020 at 88 years old. But the mark he left on one student, Mike Hanson, lives on.
“He was truly one of the most genuine people that I’d ever met,” said Hanson, who played for the men’s hockey team from 1999 to 2000 and 2002 to 2003.
Hanson, 41, said that Dolan, a religious studies professor, also never missed a game. It wasn’t only hockey games that Dolan attended. Hanson said when he’d go to any sports game at STU, Dolan would always be there.
Hanson said Dolan would sometimes be in the dressing room and pray for the team.
“The day we won the AUAA championships in 2001, I do remember us doing a team prayer before the game and I thought that was really cool,” he said.
According to Dolan’s obituary, students, no matter their faith, would sometimes show their appreciation for him with a coffee.
Mike Eagles, director of athletics at STU and former men’s hockey coach, said Dolan cared for everyone he interacted with.
“I think he just had a way of putting people at ease and accepting everybody as they were and you didn’t ever feel judged,” Eagles said.
Eagles said Dolan set students up with tutors if they needed help and went out of his way to help students excel in university.
During his four years at STU, Hanson was an Academic All-Canadian, a certificate and monetary prize awarded to student athletes with a certain GPA and significant contribution to a sport on campus. But in his third year, he was falling a bit short. Hanson went to Dolan and asked if he could do some extra assignments for credit and Dolan obliged, but made him follow through with the extra work to keep his grade up. Hanson said Dolan didn’t give free rides.
“He made a huge difference in so many guys,” said Eagles.
The same year Dolan became a professor at STU, he also became the pastor of the Holy Family Parish, a Catholic church in Fredericton.
Eagles said once him and his family got to know Dolan personally, it was natural for them to attend his church because they loved him and wanted to be there.
Eagles was asked to read a scripture at Dolan’s funeral, something he said he was very honoured to do.
For Hanson, when he finished school and moved to the United States to play professional hockey, he became less engaged with the STU community especially after the men’s hockey team was cut.
But after hearing about Dolan’s passing, Hanson found himself back in his university years after. He now works as a partner for New York Life in the Idaho General office.
“When something like that happens, it brings you right back to you being there during that time.”