Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 14, 2008
First sight of deacon showed Lindsay his future path
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
John Lindsay will reach out to panhandlers and street people as part of his ministry.
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WCR News Editor
John Lindsay gazed in wonderment at a man in St. Mary's Cathedral in Winnipeg one day in 1973.
"I was absolutely awestruck when I saw a deacon," remembers Lindsay.
"He was a tall, coloured man - Rudy - a social worker with two children. I was awed at the idea a man could have one foot in the Church and one foot in the world."
It was a telling moment of God's grace in Lindsay's life as he says, "I knew in my heart of hearts that this was something I would do when the time was right."
The time is right now for Lindsay and Louise, his wife of 32 years.
Even an abbreviated glance at this man's faith path is rich with signs of God's guidance.
His parents married in the Scottish Presbyterian Church near Aberdeen, Scotland, but his father's work took them all over the world. Eventually they settled in Venezuela and went to the local United Church at Christmas and Easter.
"My own awakenings in terms of faith were left undisturbed for many years," recalls Lindsay.
After studies in the United Kingdom, Lindsay and his best friend Stephen Ahloy hied off in 1973 to enroll at the University of Winnipeg.
Ahloy discerned he was called to be a Jesuit priest. So Lindsay found himself tagging along as his buddy attended Catholic youth groups and met with Trappist priests.
"I was intrigued," recalls Lindsay. And he was amenable to Trappist Fathers Ambrose and Dennis "catechizing me. Between the two, I was doing the RCIA program before it had been developed."
Every night he and Ahloy mulled over faith matters, "so I was becoming a young Catholic man without entering the Church."
At the same time he met Louise - a Catholic.
He converted a year before their marriage Sept. 18, 1976.
A lawyer, Lindsay finished his police training the same year in Edmonton.
"I had a long good career with Edmonton police service till 2000, spent a year at Newman Theological College and subsequently spent four and one half years with the National Parole Board and retired this year," says Lindsay. "All taught me good things and have given me the opportunity to be ready for this. Now in my mid-50s I can devote my life to service."
During those working years, the Lindsays raised four "adopted children of mixed heritage, beautiful blessings from God."
Karen, 26, Claire, 25, David, 23, and Mark, 21, have left the family nest and Louise, a professional librarian, retired in 2008 so she could share and support John in the diaconate.
Lindsay says, "I knew from the moment that (the diaconate) was being discussed that I was called."
Then reality hit.
"It gave me a big shock right off the top because I can remember the first weekend with Archbishop (Thomas) Collins and Father Paul Terrio when they outlined what their expectations were and the demands of the program. I realized 'Oh my goodness. This is going to be a lot of work.' I bought a laptop computer and that laptop has become a major part of my success."
Saying the four years of study were "an enormous learning curve - I never read so much in my life," Lindsay also discovered, "This is a demanding call."
But his whole life has been based on service and the "principal ministry of the diaconate is outside the walls of the church, helping the marginalized and those in need."
He'll be working out of St. Joseph's Basilica - his home parish.
Some of his duties will focus on ministering to the panhandlers and street people, the blind and visually impaired, offering home blessings and teaching adult catechesis.
And remember Stephen Ahloy, the person who first introduced Lindsay to Catholicism? He married, lives in Calgary, was Lindsay's best man at his wedding and was at his ordination.