Don, known to the general public as Dan, and Alice were a major force in this city, country, and Holy Trinity for a very long time. We lost Alice two years ago, and yesterday, we honoured Don.
Their son David announced his passing on Facebook thus:
Daniel James Macdonnell Heap (aka “Don” or “Dan”, depending on when & how you knew him; also “dad”). September 24, 1925 – April 26, 2014. Pacifist, socialist, worker-priest, Marxist Anglican, trade-unionist, city councillor, member of parliament, civilly disobedient marcher for human rights. Wearer of red shirts, cyclist, paddler of canoes, singer of songs. Advocate for the homeless, for refugees and for peace (among many other causes). Loving comrade in faith and solidarity of Alice Mildred née Boomhour. ((Great) grand) father of a whole bunch. ¡Presente!”
He was a part of the worker-priest tradition and lived his faith wherever he found himself. Another son, Danny, told the Star on Saturday, “We knew him as an industrial worker who was absolutely committed to figuring out how the working class could find their rightful place in history. You couldn’t untangle the Christianity piece from the socialist piece.”
That was Don to a T. He held his ideals firmly and they guided him through his life. In a community where many of us prefer metaphoric pictures of God to the literal, Don was sometimes a champion of more orthodox views. A poem about the resurrection that he particularly liked was shared on our parish email list over the weekend:
Seven Stanzas at Easter
Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
I have a particulary strong memory from a few months before Alice died. Don was struggling with Alzheimers and was not always well connected. At a service in honour of May Day at Holy Trinity, we played a number of labour anthems and hymns about work. When we launched into Union Maid, he lit right up, sang along and danced.
We’ll miss you Don.
You can read more about Don in this Toronto Star article from Saturday, or any number of newspaper articles over the many years of his and Alice’s work and ministry together.
Some other parish members have shared thoughts as well: