Richard Jan Osicki (1946-2012) Awarded the 2015 Medium & Light Award Posthumously in Winnipeg


Obituary for RYSZARD OSICKI  Ryszard J. Osicki

By Howard R. Engel, Director, Marshall McLuhan Initiative (MMI), St Paul’s College, University of Manitoba

It is right and just: a series of firsts for the Marshall McLuhan Initiative’s

5th Annual Medium and Light Award

2015 is the first time that this award would be given to a “Winnipigeon” (Marshall McLuhan’s term of endearment for his fellow Winnipeggers).  This year also marks our first posthumous recipient.

As the director of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative (MMI), it consoled me to announce on October 18 during the McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference at St. Paul’s College, the recipient of the 5th annual Medium and Light Award: my colleague and friend, Richard Jan Osicki (1946-2012). I presented it to his widow Dionisia Roman-Osicki, son Tobiasz, and brother George.

It was right and just to do so, since Richard conceived of this award as a tribute to McLuhan’s faith:

“Marshall McLuhan’s … faith played a vital role in his life and work

and he reflected deeply on the effects of new technologies on [religion] …”

And so it is

“Given to a person, group or organization that has made

a significant contribution to religious communication

inspired by the observations … [of] Marshall McLuhan”

Richard named the Medium and Light Award after the book, The Medium and the Light (1999).

McLuhan, Marshall; McLuhan, Eric; Szlarek, Jacek 1999 The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion book

It was right and just that Richard J. Osicki be recognized for his research into McLuhan’s prairie upbringing. In “McLuhan the Manitoban”, Richard wrote:

“Virtually everything for which Marshall McLuhan became internationally renowned was already evident in his public writings as a young man living in Winnipeg and studying at the University of Manitoba. …”

Richard based his University of Dayton M.A. thesis (2003) on the thought of McLuhan and Bernard Lonergan. Richard presented to the 2011 Media Ecology Association Convention in Edmonton the paper, “Is the Internet the New temple? McLuhan Looks at Religion Looks at McLuhan”. The MMI seminars “What’s the Microphone doing at Church?”  (2008) and “The Internet and Prayer” (2009), are other examples of Richard’s legacy.

It was right and just that this year’s Medium and Light Award be given in Winnipeg, Manitoba for the first time, on the 100th anniversary of the McLuhan family’s move from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Our city, known as “the Chicago of the North”, was a vaudeville mecca, an ideal locale for McLuhan’s mother Elsie, an elocutionist, to perform her readings. Richard also chose Winnipeg where he proudly lived, worked and raised his family.

It was right and just that the Medium and Light Award be given at St. Paul’s College during the McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference, held by MMI and the International Institute for the Study of Christianity and Technology. Richard coordinated seminars to train church workers in communications at St. Paul’s.  McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater was the University of Manitoba, of which St. Paul’s is now part.

Finally, it is right and just that Richard receives a tetrad in 3-D.  Richard described this award as

“The Interactive Tetrad A[n] … obelisk. … you need to [probe it].

Inside is a rectangular sliver of glass that refracts light in an array of colours.

… Created by Winnipeg artist, Matthew McMillan.”

May Richard rest in peace. His vision reveals the “Medium and the Light”, God’s redeeming love. As Richard would point out in the Eucharistic prayer,

“It is truly right and just, … to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ … ”

On his life and career: Remembering Richard Osicki


The Annual Medium and Light Award

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