Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 12, 2005
New priest bound for Afghanistan
He'll help soldiers face daily life-and-death issues
By BILL GLEN
-WCR photo by Bill Glen
Father David McLeod is greeted by Military Bishop Donald Theriault following McLeod's ordination December 3.
McLeod's recent trip to Afghanistan enabled him to get the lay of the land He described the country with a single word - "Dusty."
With the recent closing of Camp Julien in Kabul, McLeod will be stationed in Kandahar but expects to do a lot of travelling in Afghanistan. The camp has a chapel in a large, plywood building. An adjacent modular tent serves as the parish hall. Mass is celebrated every week.
"There is the spiritual component but I'll be talking with the soldiers every day; greeting them. Living with the soldiers every day is a way to keep morale up."
McLeod said he enjoys the troops because they demand honesty from him. There is mutual respect.
"For me, I feel privileged to be with them in the highs and lows of their lives."
Theriault called McLeod a man of deep compassion. "David is close to the troops and totally available to the people he is called to serve," the bishop told the gathering. "He has a generous heart and he is a man of deep faith. David will be a good priest."
McLeod has been on a journey to ordination since the day he was born. That day, his grandmother said he would become a priest.
"There was a time when I thought becoming a priest wouldn't happen and I looked at other things," he said in an interview.
"But they didn't work out. In retrospect, life for me has always led toward the priesthood. I have carried on as a pastoral associate and eventually this happened. Throughout it all, I realize it wasn't happening on my time. It was happening on God's time."
Originally from Toronto, McLeod's interest in the military was stirred by stories from his grandfather and uncles who served in the First and Second World Wars.
While he would not reveal his age, McLeod said he spent much of his youth travelling in Europe. While attending St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto where he obtained a master's degree in divinity, McLeod was as a cadet chaplain at CFB Borden, about 100 km north of Toronto, for three summers.
"In retrospect, life for me has always led toward the priesthood."
- Fr. David McLeod
He moved to Calgary in 1995 and to the Edmonton Garrison a year later. He has been to Bosnia twice and to the Golan Heights in Israel.
A major in the Armed Forces, he said "I have always been connected to the military through my family."
"One advantage we (chaplains) have in the military is that we live with the troops. You gain credibility and acceptance living in their conditions. If we're outdoors in a tent on the Prairies and it's minus 50 degrees, we freeze together."
The new priest's father came to the ordination from his home in Scarborough, Ont.
Alan McLeod shuddered as his son described returning to Afghanistan.
"I'll be watching the news closely," he said. A retired plumber, Alan has no military experience. He is proud of his son's decision to become a priest.
"He is sticking his neck out every time he goes. The last time he went, he was four days late returning. I thought he wasn't coming back."
When he retires from the military, McLeod plans to live in the Edmonton Archdiocese. He would like to serve as a priest, if called to do so.
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