Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 10, 2003
Hot seat booked for Fr. Mike McCaffery
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Father Mike McCaffery, the priest who married Wayne Gretzky in 1988, is now being honoured by the Catholic community, even by the Great One him himself.
A major roast/dinner in honour of the retired priest will be held Sept. 13 at the Agricom to raise funds for Newman Theological College, which he led in the late 1970s.
Roasters will include Senator Jean Forest, Chief Justice Allan Wachowich and Archbishop Joseph MacNeil. Gretzky, a friend of McCaffery, is unable to attend, but he will send a video presentation to the roast. Working to make the roast a success are a full slate of media personalities, plus Sister Annata Brockman, a long time friend and associate of McCaffery at St. Joseph's Basilica.
Roast organizers are hoping to sell a minimum of 800 tickets at $250 each. Proceeds from the gala event, about $250,000, will be used by Newman College to create an endowment fund in honour of McCaffery. Interest from the fund will be used to cover the college's day to day operations.
McCaffery officially retired in August 2000 after seven years as chancellor of the archdiocese, mostly under MacNeil. But in reality, he has never stopped serving. He served as pastor at Beaumont and is back at St. Joseph's Basilica as an associate pastor.
"A number of people who think very highly of Father Mike were concerned that nothing had been done to celebrate his contributions and came up with the idea of the roast," explained Joyce Tutt, executive director of the foundation of Newman College and St. Joseph's Seminary.
"Actually, people wanted to thank him for all that he's done. They feel that the community owes so much to Father Mike. He's been such a pastoral person, he's given so much to the community that people didn't want him to retire without being recognized."
The roast will coincide with the priest's 67th birthday. "People who participate in this event will be helping to leave a lasting legacy in Father Mike's name" because endowment funds are permanent, Tutt said.
Newman College is an appropriate place to have McCaffery's endowment fund because the college and adjacent seminary hold a special place in the priest's heart. He was ordained in 1961 after receiving formation at St. Joseph's Seminary, which shares the same building with Newman College on St. Albert Trail. McCaffery taught courses in pastoral theology at Newman beginning in 1976. And from 1978 to 1983 he served as president of the institution.
"I suppose it's quite an honour to be singled out to do that type of thing," McCaffery said of the upcoming roast. "It's basically to create an awareness of the need for financing at the college and the seminary and to have a good time and say some nice things about me."