Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Dowle destined to be a leader
From an early age, Fort Sask. resident showed qualities that led him to the priesthood
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Dean Dowle's decision to become a priest five years ago didn't surprise many in Fort Saskatchewan's Catholic community.
The faithful young man had always shown leadership qualities and people had great expectations of him.
He had served as an altar boy, acolyte and reader and had joined the Knights of Columbus at a young age.
People saw a future priest in him and many, including former Archbishop Thomas Collins, urged him to consider the priesthood.
But Dowle, who had been feeling the tug on his heart since his mid-teens, decided to wait, vowing to make a decision after completing his university education.
Now, following years of discernment and theological preparation, Dowle, 29, is ready for priestly service.
Archbishop Richard Smith will ordain him to the priesthood at St. Joseph's Basilica June 28. He will serve as associate pastor at the basilica following ordination.
"I'm very excited," Dowle said in a recent interview. "My vocation to the priesthood began with the assistance of my mother who helped to inculcate the love of the Church and its value and its importance."
Others who were instrumental in helping Dowle develop a life of faith are Father Duncan MacDonnell, a former pastor at Our Lady of the Angels, and Sister Ada Toner, a former pastoral assistant.
Born in Edmonton in 1981 and raised in Fort Saskatchewan, Dowle grew up in a faith-filled home, with his mother taking him and his two younger brothers to Church every Sunday. At one point all three brothers served at the altar.
What set Dean apart was his genuine interest in the faith.
"I noticed that he was one of those children that would read his prayers from his prayer book before he would go to bed at night," recalled his mother Stella. "He did that. At Grade 4-5 level, I would come in and he would be reading his prayers from his prayer book."
Did Stella ever suspect his son would end up being a priest? "Yes, I did because of the fact that he's always liked taking on challenges of leadership. He's always enjoyed speaking; he's always been very faithful in the Church."
Dowle began to fantasize about the priesthood around age 14 while serving under MacDonnell, who was pastor at Our Lady of the Angels for 15 years until 2005.
He grew to admire the elderly priest, who, in his eyes, epitomized Christ.
"I always enjoyed his expression of joy in relating to the people, his presence, the smile on his face and the human attitude that he always took to everyone to listen and to talk with them, to find out how they were."
MacDonnell never asked the young lad if he wanted to be a priest. "But he showed me and that's what made it so unique," Dowle said in an interview. "Through his guidance I came to see it and understand it for myself."
Dowle began to think more seriously about the priesthood in early high school. As he wondered if he had what it takes to be a priest, he received a letter from Collins inviting him to consider the vocation.
Encouraged by the archbishop's invitation, Dowle met the archdiocesan director of vocations and began to discern his vocation. But he wasn't making any promises, other than he would make his final decision after completing his university education.
He then began studying psychology at the University of Alberta and joined the workforce as a mechanic for the Rail Yard Company in the Fort.
As he completed his degree, he realized his priestly call had grown progressively stronger and decided to head for the seminary.
Dowle did his pastoral internship at St. Theresa Parish under Father Martin Carroll and his post-diaconal service this year in the same parish under Father Jim Corrigan.
Now he is looking forward to begin serving as a priest.
"I'm very excited and very enthusiastic to be with the people, to work with them, to learn from them and to share with them my relationship with Christ and then to help bring it together to society and to the world, here in Edmonton and abroad," he said.
"I think the Church is an incredible gift to us and there is so much that it can do for people and what people can do for the Church."
Sister Toner, who persistently encouraged Dowle to consider the priesthood, wasn't surprised he said "yes" to God's call. "I could see it in him a long time ago, when he was a just a young lad," she said proudly from her Fort Saskatchewan home. "He is a marvellous guy, very genuine and very human.
"I know he is going to be a very caring priest because he's had to meet with all kinds of ups and downs and knows what life is about."
MacDonnell said Dowle always showed an inclination for the priesthood and he is happy to have guided him in the right direction.
"He was a leader in the schools and a pleasant and joyful server in the Church," he recalled. "I think he'll be a good, caring priest who will serve the people well. He is a responsible young man. I have lots of confidence in him."
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