Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 1, 2009
New priest aims to serve the poorest
Peru opened Frt. Dan Gurnick's heart when he witnessed the Franciscans poverty and service to the poor
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Michael Gurnick came all the way from Japan to be at the Jan. 23 ordination of his "lively, energetic" brother Dan.
The new Franciscan priest went through a hard time in his life, but that time turned him into someone who will be effective in the priesthood, said Michael, who brought his wife, child and mother-in-law to the event.
"There have been two brothers, two Dans that I have known. The first Dan was very quiet, hard working and just kind of kept to himself," he said in an interview.
"He entered a rough patch in his life and I think at that time he realized God was with him. When he came out of it, he became this joyful, lively, energetic person that we now have with us today."
Daniel Gurnick, 36, was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil in a nearly packed St. Joseph's Basilica.
Among those in attendance were Franciscan friars, priests from throughout the Edmonton Archdiocese and a busload of friends from Rocky Mountain House.
Following his ordination, Gurnick will continue chaplaincy work at two prisons, as well as serving at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park.
Michael Gurnick said his older brother will do well in the priesthood.
"He is able to filter what he says, whereas some people do not have that ability. He is patient, understanding and very intelligent. He's an excellent people person. His personality is now very energetic and contagious."
For the Franciscans of Western Canada, the ordination was a strong sign that their vocations drought is over.
A SPECIAL CALLING
MacNeil, a friend of the friars, told the congregation that becoming a priest is a special calling and among all of Jesus' followers only a select few are ever chosen to wear the stole and chasuble.
"Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and to seek out those who are lost," MacNeil advised Gurnick during his homily.
Gurnick, 36, went on a mission trip in Moquegua, Peru, a few years ago. The life-changing experience opened his eyes to the lifestyle of Franciscan poverty and he decided to become a priest.
His ordination was a significant moment for the Franciscans, who have not ordained a priest in Western Canada since June 1987. Now, six others are in the formation process.
GOD'S GIFT TO THE CHURCH
Religious communities, such as the Franciscans, are God's gift to the Church, essential to the nature of the Church, said MacNeil.
"There's a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes provinces to raise a priest. So I'd first like to thank Christ the King Province for all their support and generosity," said Gurnick.
He singled out his immediate family for helping him reach this important milestone in his life.
"I'd like to thank my mom who has probably prayed for me more than I have prayed for myself. She's supported me along the way and has been a dear friend."
Franciscan Father Laurent Gallant has known Gurnick since he became a "seeker."
Gallant agreed that among Gurnick's most admirable qualities that he brings to the priesthood is "his keen attention to people, especially to people who are in need.
"He has been working downtown in the inner city ministry and also prison work. That is his inclination and, from what I hear, he's pretty good at it. People seem to be very happy about his service and appreciate him."
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