It was with great sadness that the Redeemer community heard news of the passing of Dr. John Vriend on February 27, 2018 after a brief battle with cancer.
Vriend was a passionate advocate for what eventually became his life’s work: Christian education. Vriend, who was an emeritus professor of education, was one of the founding faculty members of the Education program itself. He began teaching part-time at Redeemer in 1985, in what was then a combined Education program with Calvin College. He joined Redeemer’s faculty full-time in 1986. Though he retired in 2006, Vriend continued to teach as an adjunct faculty member for several years.
Vriend lobbied voraciously for the inception and eventual accreditation of Redeemer’s Education program. “John played a large and strategic role in the process [of forming the Education program],” said Hugh Cook, emeritus professor of English, “drafting all the detailed documents that convinced the Ministry that Redeemer was qualified to offer the degree.” It was this charter change that enabled Redeemer to begin awarding Bachelor of Education degrees in June of 2003, leading to the program’s official accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers in December of 2003. These milestones were some of Vriend’s major contributions to the institution.
“We are truly grateful for John’s faithful, passionate service to Redeemer for almost 25 years,” said interim president Fred Verwoerd. “His zeal for Christian education will be sorely missed! While we mourn John’s passing, we rejoice that he is now in the presence of our Lord and Saviour.”
John leaves behind his wife Ada and his extended family, including two nephews who teach at Redeemer — Dr. Christiaan Teeuwsen, associate professor of music, and Dr. Phil Teeuwsen, associate professor of education.
The funeral for Vriend was held at Covenant Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines on Saturday, March 3.