Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 9, 2004
Christ's Legionaire serves youth
Edmonton school boy listened to the beckonings of God and happily followed his faithful Master
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
An early fascination with numbers would prove to help Father Shane Michael Lambert count his blessings recently when the newly ordained priest celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Lambert, 34, was joined by family and friends for his Dec. 24 ordination to the Legionaries of Christ in Rome and subsequent Mass on Boxing Day in a moment he considers "a tremendous honour and grace."
"Christ is faithful to his promises," Lambert said. "He promised me one hundred fold in this life, yet he has already outdone himself."
Originally from Edmonton, Lambert first noticed his intrigue with the Church while visiting a parish during an elementary school (St. Clare) field trip.
Stations of the Cross
He soon found himself standing before the Stations of the Cross counting and memorizing the Roman numerals.
"On another day, the school librarian handed out sheets of paper for us to take home for our parents' signature," he said.
"They contained our personal information, including name, address, birthday. Since I was already precocious enough to think I knew what my parents would say, I verified the information myself. But when I reached the check boxes for religion, I realized that I was nothing," he said.
"This was what consciously triggered my desire for Baptism."
His wish was granted during Easter 1979 while in Grade 4. Archbishop Joseph MacNeil confirmed him two years later, on the day following the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul.
"Since I was a paper boy, God gave me an entire afternoon to contemplate the headline, 'Pope shot,' and what it might mean to bear witness to Christ."
Lambert never forgot the power of that moment nor its effect on him.
Sensing he was called to fulfill a mission of some kind, his Catholic conscience told him to use his talents.
After his second year at the U of A in the honours physics program, Lambert attended a pro-life conference where Dr. Bernard Nathanson spoke on his scientifically-based conversion from being an American abortionist and lobbyist to pro-life activist.
The devastating reality of abortion in Canada hit Lambert deeply.
He formed a pro-life group committed to talking to his peers about the ravages of abortion.
During this time a pro-life friend told him about the Legionaries of Christ and its vigorous Christ-centred congregation, but Lambert related that he was not cut out for such an ideal.
However, another friend who knew Lambert was considering the priesthood brought him some literature. Its international character and the fact the majority of its members were still seminarians attracted Lambert further.
Making his choice
"On May 1, 1991 I received a call from a Legionary priest who invited me to visit the nearest seminary: On the same day I was hired as a regional director of the Canadian census in Edmonton," he said.
"I turned down the job: I preferred to be numbered among those chosen to follow Christ."
The Legionaries of Christ serve the Church and others through schools, universities and centres to form the character and Christian virtue of families, youth and married couples as well as the Christian and humanitarian development of the poor.
Their formation is anchored on the four aspects of humanity, spirituality, pastoral and intellectual.
They have over 550 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide, including Father Gerard O'Hara, a former Edmontonian who is now stationed in the jungle among the Mayan Indians at their mission territory on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.
Lambert is presently stationed in Rhode Island, a ministry dedicated to youth work.
"My priestly preparation as a Legionary helps me to bring out Christ's image in souls through providing them with an integral formation - in soul, body, mind and heart," Lambert said.
"Every sector of the human person can reflect the glory of God's grace."