Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 5, 2010
From far and wide, friends say 'Farewell Fr. Troy'
Spiritian who delighted in friends drew many to Jesus - archbishop
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
To many Edmontonians, Father Michael Troy, who died March 19 at age 92, was more than a spiritual guide, teacher, coach and pastor. He was also their beloved friend. And judging by the numbers who attended his funeral services, his friends loved him a lot.
Several hundred attended the viewing of his body at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes March 25 and the prayer vigil that followed. Well over a thousand packed St. Joseph's Basilica for his funeral Mass the following morning.
At all events, Troy was remembered as an integral priest, a good friend and man who lived intensely.
"Father Troy has touched many people in innumerable ways, but his full impact on our lives can only be fully appreciated in the light of his relation with Jesus Christ," Archbishop Richard Smith said in his homily.
"He drew near to many, became their friend and took great delight in their well-being. This was especially true of young people, who often needed to be reassured that they were known, that they counted, that they mattered, especially if they came from difficult family environments."
Smith noted that Troy even drew near to children overseas through his work with the Holy Childhood Association.
DELIGHT IN HIS FRIENDS
"Once you were known by Father Troy you were not forgotten," he continued. "This priest knew his people and remembered them. The nearness of Father Troy, his delight in his friends and his memory of them was a reflection of the truth that God, who has drawn near to each of us in Jesus Christ, knows us, delights in us and never forgets us."
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1917, Michael Troy was a member of the Spiritans, a missionary religious order.
In 1965, he moved to Edmonton and began teaching at Archbishop MacDonald High School. Later he taught at St. Joseph High School, where he remained for more than 32 years.
Edmonton Catholic Schools honoured Troy in 2003 for his many years of service by naming a junior high school in southeast Edmonton after him.
Troy was the executive director of the Edmonton Archdiocesan Mission Council and edited a worldwide missionary magazine called the Spiritan.
He led local initiatives on behalf of the Holy Childhood Association, a Catholic mission society for children in kindergarten through Grade 8, helping schools raise thousands of dollars for developing nations. He died at Royal Alexandra Hospital following a brave battle against cancer.
Some 400 people viewed Troy's body at Connelly-McKinley for the last time. Looking at pictures of the priest on a bulletin board at the back of the hall, Veronica Yeomans of St. Andrew's Parish reminisced about Troy's good nature.
"I wish we had more (priests) like him; this would be a better place," Yeomans said. "He was an optimist - always happy and friendly. I don't think he ever had a dull moment."
EVERYONE'S BEST FRIEND
Bob Fillion, a retired St. Joseph's High School teacher and longtime friend of Troy's, often took the priest for brunch after Sunday Mass at Holy Spirit Church. He enjoyed potato soup, garlic bread and would always have tea after meals.
"Everybody was Father's best friend," he said with a smile.
"Father was intensely proud of his ability to stay active and of his ability to keep things going and to help others," recalled Fillion. "He had a life of complete service. He didn't know how to say 'No.'"
He also described the Spiritan priest as friendly and positive to a fault - the one who lifted everybody's spirits. "You never caught him at a bad moment."
Troy was friends of the family of Susan and Tony Sarich for about 30 years, visiting them often. "He was a meat and potatoes guy, like a good Irishman," Tony laughed. The Sariches had to have pumpkin pie for Troy every year for Thanksgiving.
THINGS TO DO
"He had a brilliant mind - clear to the very end," Susan recalled. "His body was breaking down but he wasn't ready to shut down. He just wanted to be there because he still had things to do. He wanted to build a tracking field for Father Michael Troy School because they needed one."
Tony first met Troy while studying at O'Leary High, where he played soccer. Troy was coach for St. Joseph's. "We started as adversaries," Tony laughed, noting that in Grade 12 he switched to St. Joseph's to play on Troy's team.
"He was a great leader at school," he recalled. "To me, he was the grandfather I never had. He was the family priest, he married us and he married our kids."
Eilish Coppola, one of Troy's nieces, travelled from New York to pay her last respects to her uncle.
"We were very lucky; we saw him every summer," she recalled. "Life was an adventure with Father from the time we were kids, even growing up. He always took special time to be with each of us."
Troy would flourish in social situations, according to Tom Farrell, Troy's nephew and Coppola's brother, who came from England.
"He was the magnet that brought everybody together," he said. "He had a really good sense of humour. He lit up the world when he came to it. He lived a wonderful life and made it wonderful for everybody else."
CHANGED OUR LIVES
Lucia Spark, a member of Holy Spirit Parish, has known Troy for about 10 years. The Costa Rican woman cooked for him occasionally and even shined his shoes.
"He knew how to get into a person's heart and how to change people's lives," Spark said. "Father Troy, to me and to my family, was the reason why we became more religious, more Catholic. He changed our lives."
He changed life in the parish as well. "Our congregation used to be small. Since Father Troy came to Holy Spirit, the congregation grew and grew more because when he preached to us on Sunday he knew how to get into our hearts," Spark told the WCR at the viewing.
"The words he preached to us went right deep into our hearts. He was a very happy person,. He encouraged everybody to do their best."
Troy didn't want to worry people so he kept his illness virtually a secret. "He was such a caring person he didn't want anybody to know that he was very sick," Spark lamented. "Right to the end, nobody knew that he was so sick."
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