Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 17, 2008
Foreign priests keep Church alive
25 visiting priests make it possible for smaller parishes to stay open
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Fr. John Reddy, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Fort Saskatchewan and three attached missions is one of 25 international priests now serving in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
Western Catholic Reporter
It’s a new world for Pallotine Father John Reddy. The priest from India has been in Canada for three years, serving at Fort Saskatchewan and three adjoining missions.
But while some aspects of living in Canada are challenging, the workload for the 46-year-old priest is a piece of cake.
Reddy taught at a seminary and helped in a parish of 12,000 families before he came to Edmonton. He and Father Francis Mariappa, another Pallotine from India, serve 1,800 families in Fort Saskatchewan and neighbouring communities.
“The first difference that we experience when we come here is geographical and climate,” notes Reddy. “Most missionary priests, including myself, probably have never seen snow.”
Reddy is one of 25 priests in the Edmonton Archdiocese who have come from faraway lands to help this local Church meet a crying need for priests.
Without those missionary priests from places like India and Poland, many parishes in the Edmonton Archdiocese would have to be closed. And although the number of homegrown seminarians has increased in recent years, so has the importing of priests from other nations.
“I can’t imagine how this archdiocese would work without missionary priests,” said Father Adam Lech, rector of St. Joseph’s Basilica and vicar for international priests in the Edmonton Archdiocese. “Many communities would simply not have Sunday services on a regular basis.”
Those international priests have to adjust their lifestyles to help keep the Church in the Edmonton Archdiocese vibrant.
The most obvious challenges are the cold Western Canadian winters and the difficulty – even if English is their first language – of communicating with their flock.
But they also struggle with unfamiliar food, loneliness, a more scheduled approach to daily living and a much higher level of lay involvement in the Western Canadian Church than they find at home.
Reddy has largely adapted to the culture (he even goes to watch local hockey games sometimes) and is looking forward to “many years of service with the Edmonton Archdiocese and the Canadian Church.”
Most international priests are happy here and some, like Reddy, say they want to stay when their commitment is complete.