Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 10, 2010
McCarty a shy priest who loved the sick and poor
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Archdiocese is mourning the lost of one of its most beloved priests - Father Edward McCarty, a priest for 62 years.
McCarty, an unassuming and spiritual man who ran marathons until age 75, had a long and fruitful ministry as pastor in several parishes and as a hospital chaplain.
People loved him and he loved them back. He was known for his compassion for the sick and the dying and for his genuine love for the poor, who would gather outside his door to benefit from his generosity.
Sometimes McCarty would use his credit card to buy groceries or clothing for people in need. As for himself, he would wear second-hand clothes from Value Village.
McCarty, a resident of the Edmonton General's Alzheimer's Unit since 2004, died of complications from pneumonia at the Royal Alex Hospital May 4. He was 92.
A native of Calgary, McCarty, who had a degree in agriculture, entered St. Joseph Seminary in 1944 and was ordained at St. Joseph's Cathedral Feb. 8, 1948.
Over the years he served as pastor in several communities, including Winfield, Trochu, Heisler, Tofield, Vegreville, Lloydminster, Castor, Wetaskiwin and Edmonton.
In Edmonton, he was pastor at Sacred Heart Parish from 1975 to 1980 and associate pastor at St. Anthony's Parish from 1983 to 1990, while at the same time serving as chaplain at the Cross Cancer Institute.
He also served as pastor of St. Pius X Parish from 1990 until his retirement in March 1998. He later served as chaplain at the Royal Alex and then at St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital.
At St. Joseph's, he would say Mass twice during the week and on Sundays.
"Because of his Alzheimer's I would drive him back and forth to say Mass," recalls Catherine Forest, who has been looking after McCarty since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2002. At that point McCarty was living on the grounds of the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
"He said his last (official) Mass in the year 2004," recalled Forest. "But when he got to the General (Hospital in 2004), the pastoral team there would have him sometimes say a Mass for the patients. He couldn't remember many things, but right to the end he could say his prayers just so well."
GENTLE AND KIND
Forest, a member of Assumption Parish who has known McCarty for over 20 years, called McCarty "a wonderful, wonderful man."
"He was a very, very gentle and kind man who would give you the coat off his back."
Father John Hesse, who knew McCarty for 50 years, described him as a "generous, dedicated and holy priest."
"He was very generous in serving the needs of people and priests appreciated him generally because he was a friend of all the priests," Hesse said May 5. "The priests were very close to him."
St. Pius parishioner Gloria Frigon last visited McCarty at the Royal Alex May 4, just over an hour before he died. "He went very peacefully," she said.
Frigon lives across the street from St. Pius Church and became good friends with McCarty. She could see from her window how the downtrodden would gather in front of his door. He would give them what he had and if he didn't have anything, he would take them to buy groceries.
"I just think he was a true example of what a Christian should be and what love is all about," Frigon said. "He did so many beautiful acts of kindness always behind the scene."
When Frigon first met McCarty, she was "extra heavy" but the priest would take her early in the morning to the Kinsmen Centre to run with him. As a result, she quit smoking and lost 80 pounds.
McCarty began running in the 1960s to help lose weight and give up smoking. By the late 1980s, he was running marathons, completing the 42-km run several times in places as far afield as New York and Palm Beach, Calif.
He drew no attention until The Edmonton Journal interviewed him after he completed the 1993 Edmonton Marathon.
"I don't like the publicity it can attract," the shy priest told the WCR in a follow-up interview. "If I'd known I was talking with a reporter after my exhausting effort while drinking a Coke, I wouldn't have said anything."
Sister Norma Johnson, who was pastoral assistant at St. Pius during McCarty's tenure, described McCarty as a "very spiritual and unassuming man" who had a lot of compassion for the sick, the dying and the poor.
"I would say he was a priest for people who would fall between the cracks," Johnson said from Carrollton, Ohio. People sometimes "used him," but he always gave them the benefit of the doubt.
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