Former Resident Scholar Ivan J. Kauffman died on July 15, 2015, surrounded by family, after suffering a massive stroke 11 days earlier. Ivan was the co-founder of Bridgefolk, a movement of “sacramentally-minded Mennonites and peace-minded Roman Catholics.” He and his wife Lois founded and ran the Michael Sattler House, just down the road from the Collegeville Institute, until their recent move to Philadelphia.
The following tributes give a small glimpse into the breadth and depth of Ivan’s legacy:
“Mr. Kauffman lived a full life, striving always to follow his true calling. His family and friends will miss his warmth as well as his deep, stentorian voice, his impassioned discussions, his genealogy and history lessons, his philosophical debates, and his faith-filled life.”
“Ivan lived a long and full life—I met him when he was seventy. It was during my Spring 2009 sabbatical—Ivan and I were ‘resident scholars’ at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Minnesota. I knew that Ivan and Lois were a different breed than I had ever encountered when I found out that they were ‘Mennonite Catholics.’ That made about as much sense to me as ‘Evangelical Unitarian’ or ‘Muslim Jew,’ but I soon discovered that Ivan embodied this strange confluence. He was a bridge builder, seeking to connect traditions vastly different in their practices but deeply rooted in shared mysteries of the Christian faith. An academic, scholar, poet, advocate and activist—Ivan was passion and conviction incarnate.”
“Ivan had to measure out his hope by oceans because he was off the Jungian Myers-Briggs chart as an ‘intuitive’ who looks past details to see the big picture. A peace activist of sorts throughout his career, he didn’t simply trace the ebbs and flows of the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, or other social movements. Instead he traced the arc of God’s work in history in a project that (no wonder) he never quite could finish, surveying the movement ‘from Moses to Gandhi.’ When passing justice-and-peace movements disappointed him and church division grieved him, he posited the large-scale thesis that drove him to Catholicism and shaped the rest of his life. That thesis: Even Christians who are most committed to peacemaking will be limited in what they can do to make peace in the world until churches share a common witness by making peace among themselves.”