Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 5, 2010
Cheers, hugs greet newly-minted priest
Fr. Dean Dowle's discernment journey earned plaudits from family, parishioners, fellow priests
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - "Father Dowle," Archbishop Richard Smith said loudly at the end of the Mass, smiling generously toward the newly-ordained priest, who stood calmly by his side.
The congregation erupted in cheers as if they needed to hear those two words to internalize what they had just witnessed: the ordination of 29-year-old Dean Robert Dowle at St. Joseph's Basilica June 28.
Dowle and the archbishop walked together down the aisle, smiling and waving to the cheering crowd. The applause died down only when Dowle reached the basilica lobby on his way to a reception in his honour downstairs.
People tried to touch the new priest's hands and garments, some high-fived him, others shook his hand, and others just went ahead and hugged him as he tried to find his way downstairs.
An old man who apparently knew Dowle sobbed inconsolably as the new priest went by. Dowle saw him and immediately extended his arms to him.
Many young people seemed eager to be seen by Dowle, as if wanting him to know they had been there for his ordination. "Dean, Dean," a young woman waved to him. The young priest waved back with a smile.
At the reception downstairs, the young priest was mobbed by some of those who lined up for his blessing. But he always wore a smile and hugged everybody who wanted a hug.
A Filipino woman rushed to be blessed first by Dowle. At one point, Dowle could be seen praying over a group of young men. It was almost 10 p.m. and the lineup for a blessing from Dowle seemed interminable.
"I feel absolutely overwhelmed, very humbled by the people who are hoping and praying for me and I hope to do the very best that I can in serving them in the future," Dowle told the WCR at the reception.
The basilica was packed for the ordination. More than 200 members of Dowle's parish, Our Lady of the Angels in Fort Saskatchewan, attended the ceremony. The priest who inspired him, Father Duncan MacDonnell, was also there and even helped clothe Dowle in his new priestly garments.
"I'm very impressed," said Fort Saskatchewan parishioner Joe Staszko, who helped Dowle on his priestly journey. Staszko strove to keep Dowle involved and never missed an opportunity to urge him to become a priest.
"I think people in Fort Saskatchewan had no doubt for the last five or six years that Dean would become a priest," Staszko said after the Mass. "He is very deep in his faith; I think he'll be a very spiritual priest."
Dowle served as a deacon at St. Theresa Parish for the past year and the pastor, Father Jim Corrigan, was impressed with his enthusiasm, intelligence and work ethic.
"He is a fine young man; one thing special about him is that he looks at what needs to be done or at what can be done and he actually takes initiative," Corrigan said at the reception.
"Guys like Dean are few and far between. He is personable; he likes people and people like him. He is one of the future stars (in the archdiocese)."
Elena Lirio, a Filipino Catholic who attended the ordination, was happy as a child after receiving Dowle's blessing at the reception.
"He is a new priest and I do believe that the first blessing is very special," she told the WCR. "I feel warmth in my body; the Holy Spirit is with me."
Lirio said she could sense Dowle's goodness. "There is something special with him. I don't know what to say but it's an overwhelming experience; like you feel his sincerity."
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