Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
Running with the archbishop
Newman joggers among those impressed by Smith
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Archbishop Richard Smith is mobbed by autograph seekers in a reception following his May 1 installation Mass.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Some were curious to meet their new spiritual leader, while others were already aware of some of his talents.
All those who spoke to the WCR following the installation of Archbishop Richard Smith at St. Joseph's Basilica, were very pleased.
"He sounds like an incredibly pastoral leader. He is balanced between his theology, his academics and his people skills," said Kevin Feehan, chancellor of Newman Theological College.
"It's wonderful to have an archbishop who is both pastoral and theologically sound."
Feehan said he had a chance to discuss the archbishop's homily with some of his colleagues.
"His homily was very skilled in terms of working in Alberta's energy wealth and growth together with our need to hold onto that which is most important - our growth in the Gospel and in the Church."
Feehan invited Smith for a five-km run in Rundle Park recently. He said the archbishop leaped at the opportunity to experience some of the city's revered river valley.
"He's in fantastic shape. He was up early with a bright and cheery attitude for a run with several people from Newman College. It was a wonderful morning.
"Afterwards, we talked about Edmonton, trying to give him some idea of its geography, the people and the climate."
Cathy Bouchard met Smith in Halifax last summer during the Catholic Women's League's national convention. She said his installation was like welcoming a brother home.
"He is solid spiritually; a leader who offers good advice. He is patient and caring. All of our national people are saying we are so lucky and blessed to have him here," said Bouchard, CWL archdiocesan president.
"He will be watchful, like a shepherd watching and guiding the different groups. I think he will lead us by bringing us along. We look forward to his guidance. It's very exciting."
Like the pope
David and Theresa McPike belong to the basilica parish. They were on hand to celebrate with their three-month-old son Isaac and to learn a bit more about their new spiritual leader.
"I like how he wants to model himself after Pope Benedict. We certainly like him," David said.
"He seems very approachable and warm. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's going to bring to Edmonton - to see if he'll make any changes," Theresa added.
Archdiocesan pastoral services director Julien Hammond is astounded by Smith's power of recollection.
"He has already shown us at the Pastoral Centre that he has an amazing ability to remember names and faces," Hammond said.
"In his homily tonight I think I heard the language of social justice which I think is a pressing thing for this time in the archdiocese. There are a number of social issues that are affecting us as a society. I look forward to working with him on such issues."
Hammond sees promise in continuing a growing relationship with other faith communities in Edmonton.
"It was good to see representatives of other faith communities tonight. This bodes very well for the future of our relations with politicians and other faith leaders," he said.
Sandra Talarico is a religious consultant with Edmonton Catholic Schools. She was impressed with Smith's calm delivery during the homily, as well as his singing voice. She has yet to meet the archbishop.
"Did you hear him sing the Eucharistic Prayer? It was incredible," Talarico said.
"I think he is a perfect blend of (former archbishops) MacNeil and Collins. He has the personable Maritime personality like MacNeil and he has a scholarly intellect like Collins," she said.
"He has a real sense of people."