Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 26, 1999
Happy birthday, dear archbishop
MacNeil receives hearty celebration for his 75th
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Someone might have made a mistake putting all those candles on the cake with Happy 75th Birthday Archbishop MacNeil scrawled in aqua blue icing.
"What do you mean 75, I'm only 65," joked MacNeil as more than 60 people gathered in the Catholic Pastoral Centre's assembly hall to celebrate his birthday April 15.
The jovial archbishop made his way through the crowd shaking hands and acknowledging the staff's birthday wishes for him.
Among the well-wishers were Archbishop Thomas Collins, Vicar-General Msgr. Don MacDonald, Chancellor Father Michael McCaffery and Marguerite Bilodeau, co-chancellor and MacNeil's executive secretary.
"Twelve years to the day after the Titanic sank off the coast of Nova Scotia, baby Joseph MacNeil was born," said Bilodeau in a speech honouring the birthday boy. "And this diocese is privileged to have him at the helm of this ship for one third of his life."
She was followed by Father Jack Spicer, director of the Adult Learning Commission.
"I didn't have to go around asking all the departments how they felt about him," Spicer said. "I knew.
"He is an archbishop and a gentleman."
MacNeil was presented with a card signed by pastoral centre staff and a framed drawing of a bald eagle given to him by an inmate he met during one of his visits to local prisons.
Having hit the age where most people are looking forward to putting their feet up and giving their Daytimers a rest, it would seem a natural move for a man who has spent a quarter of a century chairing committees, lobbying for Church agencies and promoting the Catholic way of life to take a break from the flurry of an archbishop's schedule.
But MacNeil has no plans for such downtime. He plans to remain active in the archdiocese.
"I'll be retiring in mid-June, but I'll still be around, visiting with everyone, making sure Margot (Bilodeau) and (Collins) are doing their jobs," he said with a hearty smile that promises many more birthday cakes with blue-lettered icing.