Luke’s story begins in Toronto, where his father, the broadcaster and composer Peter-Anthony Togni, was working for CBC Radio. After relocating to Nova Scotia, the family lived for a time in Seabright, which made for “a radical shift to the countryside”, until Luke became a townie at King’s-Edgehill, Windsor, in the International Baccalaureate Programme. While he was happily coming to grips with ancient and modern history, philosophy, and German at school, Luke was encouraged to consider enrolling in the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College, primarily by Dr. Patrick Atherton, a family friend and former Chairman of Classics, and by the Rev. David Curry. David, who was Luke's advisor, is Rector of Windsor, Chaplain and teacher at King’s-Edgehill, and a graduate of the Department (B.A. 1976; M.A. 1978). Classics seems to have been predestined.
Luke entered the Foundation Year in 2005 and found his first deep examination of the ancient and medieval worlds as wonder-filled and exciting as he could have hoped. He was especially intrigued by the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, the richness of Dante, the origins of rationalism, the systematic thought of Hegel, and the opportunity of exploring the Catholic tradition throughout the centuries – all of which were harbingers of his emerging intellectual interests. He undertook a B.A. in Classics as a matter of course. With a smile he recalls having studied Greek before Latin; “It was a little odd, but Latin felt so easy afterwards!” Those who would doubt the relevance of a Classics degree receive this rejoinder: “Classics offers to the mind and soul an appreciation of the causes of things: human history, the literary tradition, and even being itself. It focuses on a span of 1,500 years, but its careful methods and manners of thought are applicable anywhere. It sets our own world in context; seeing the ancient or medieval world properly helps us to become aware of our own prejudices and to be freed from them.”
Luke’s B.A. with First Class Honours in 2009 led immediately into the M.A. programme, and a thesis on Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda in which he tried to determine whether one can understand God and material things in the same science. Luke arrived at a Thomistic conclusion by way of finding a shared analogical structure. Outside his studies Luke taught ten- and eleven-year-old children at Our Lady of Schools, a local independent Catholic elementary school, where he taught music, not neglecting Gregorian chant. “Teaching has been a very positive experience,” he notes; “I enjoy helping to broaden people’s backgrounds and their musical perceptions.” Cooperating at Our Lady of Schools with Latin instructor Dr. Peter Kussmaul, a retired Dalhousie classicist, was a happy experience. Luke’s musical interests are also exercised in efforts to renew Catholic liturgy – a work shared with his father. Luke managed to find time for romance, marriage, and fatherhood.
Whatever the nature of God, material substances, and science may be, however, it is definitely in the nature of theses to leave the researcher with further questions to consider. With the M.A. now complete, Luke eagerly anticipates doctoral research dealing with Bonaventure’s Itinerarium, to which he was introduced in Dr. Hankey’s Medieval Philosophy class. He has been accepted into the PhD programme in Historical Theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee. At present he plans to centre his work on the role of saving knowledge in Bonaventure. The move to Milwaukee will require some changes: a move from a small Classics department in a small city to a large confessional department in a large and very demographically-diverse city. He and his family are looking forward to the adventure.
As a teacher at Our Lady of Schools and as a teaching assistant or guest lecturer in the Department, Luke found deep pleasure in helping people come to grips with new ideas. He hopes eventually to teach both elementary school and university students.
Pax tecum, Luke!
We are grateful to Christopher Grundke and to Luke Togni for the interview on which this profile is based.