Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 11, 2006
Grand Prairie priest named to head Grouard-McLennan
A Redemptorist, Pettipas, 56, replaces ailing Guimond
By RAMON GONZALEZ
I was very impressed by (the priest) and I found myself thinking more and more about becoming a priest,"
- Fr. Gerard Pettipas
He became interested in the priesthood as a 13-year-old boy while his family was stationed in Portage La Prairie, Man. "I got to know the priest there. He was a diocesan priest. I was very impressed by him and I found myself thinking more and more about becoming a priest," Pettipas said.
When the family moved back to Halifax, Pettipas began writing to religious orders to see what they had to offer.
Most congregations sent pamphlets but the Redemptorists sent a letter. "The priest who wrote back wrote a very personable letter and asked about me and spoke about himself," Pettipas recalled.
"So I found myself carrying on a bit of a correspondence with this priest. Then eventually (the Redemptorists) asked me if I would like to come to their minor seminary and learn more about becoming a priest."
Pettipas, then 16, said okay and enrolled at St. Mary's College in Brockville, Ont., where he completed the last two years of high school.
While at St. Mary's College, the minor seminary, Pettipas had the opportunity to see the Redemptorists up close and began to realize what the real gifts and strengths of the community were.
"One of the charisms of the Redemptorists is preaching the word of God and I found that very attractive," he said. "I also found that the fellowship, the Christian community life that they lived was very attractive to me."
After finishing his bachelor of arts at the University of Windsor in 1972, Pettipas studied theology in Montreal for a year and then went to Toronto for his novitiate. He received his master of divinity degree from the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto and his master's degree in spirituality and counselling from St. Joseph's College in West Hartford, Conn.
He professed his religious vows in 1973 and was ordained a priest May 7, 1977 at Assumption Church in Toronto by Bishop Thomas Fulton. Following his ordination, Pettipas served as associate pastor at St. Teresa Parish in St. John's, Nfld.
He was then vocation director and part of the Redemptorist parish mission team in Ontario. From 1990 to 1992, he was rector and director of Holy Redeemer College Retreat Centre in Windsor, Ont., after which he worked in youth ministry, from 1992 to 1995.
Pettipas has served as vicar of the Edmonton-Toronto Province of the Redemptorists for three terms and has been a member of the order's extraordinary provincial council multiple times.
Since 1999, he has served as pastor of the 2,900-family St. Joseph Parish in Grande Prairie, where he is currently overseeing the completion of a new church.
"We don't know when we are going to open it yet but I fully expect that I'll be the bishop who blesses that church," he said.
"It's very exciting. I'm very much looking forward to that. I wouldn't have thought that I would be doing that. But now that I am the archbishop I'm going to do this myself."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.