WCR FILE PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Fr. Troy's consistent caring and coaching turned many a student's life around.
TORONTO — Spiritan Father Michael Troy, founding father and principal at Toronto's Neil McNeil High School, had an untraditional way of thinking, said Father Gerald FitzGerald.
"There was a rapport, a relationship and a casualness between the priest-teachers and the boys that did not exist elsewhere and that was the unique spirit of Neil McNeil," said FitzGerald, a fellow Spiritan who was a seminarian under Troy in Dublin and a science teacher at Neil McNeil.
"He came in at a unique time in the spread of Catholic education - and I think he left a stamp on it. "I think he shook up Catholic education," said FitzGerald. "He came here with no preconceived ideas and he brought with him a tremendous freshness."
On April 15, a reunion and celebration of Troy's life is being held at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Toronto, with a Mass celebrated by a Neil McNeil graduate, Toronto Auxiliary Bishop John Boissonneau. A reception will follow in the parish hall. Troy died at age 92 March 19 last year in Edmonton where he had taught and served as chaplain at St. Joseph's High School for 32 years.
Troy was very influential, said Neil Lundy, a former student and member of the alumni committee.
"He was quite a dominant guy in a benign way," said Lundy. "He knew everybody. . . . He knew the students, and in most cases, he knew your parents. And he wasn't just some academic hiding out in his office. He was involved with student life and that's the important thing."
Catholicism was really at the forefront in classes at the school, said Lundy. "Not only in religion class but in every class that we took."
He lived by example, said Lundy. Every week, Troy would lace up his skates and play hockey — even though he wasn't the best at it.
"He was a strong believer in strong mind, strong body: play sports even if you're not good at it," said Lundy. "And that's leading by example."
Sports were incredibly important in his life and he made them important in his students' lives, said Tony Loginow, a Neil McNeil alumnus and alumni committee member.
As a former director of the Spiritans at the seminary in Dublin, Troy was responsible for bringing many priests — and strong educators — with him to Canada. He was the guiding light at Neil McNeil from the very beginning, said Father John Geary, a seminarian under Troy in Dublin and a teacher at Neil McNeil. "There's no doubt that once Father Troy arrived, he personified the school and he became a symbol of the place," said Geary.