Basilica explodes with applause for Bishop Kasun

Bishop Robert Kasun blesses the congregation in Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica following his episcopal ordination Sept. 12.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Bishop Robert Kasun blesses the congregation in Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica following his episcopal ordination Sept. 12

September 26, 2016
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

At a joyful celebration attended by clergy from various parts of Canada as well as the new bishops' former parishioners, Basilian Father Robert Kasun, former pastor at Edmonton's St. Alphonsus and St. Clare parishes, was ordained auxiliary bishop of the Toronto Archdiocese.

Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, a former archbishop of Edmonton, presided at the Sept. 12 ordination. St. Joseph Basilica exploded in applause to congratulate the humble new bishop, who is slowly accepting his call to higher office.

In an interview following his ordination, Kasun said he "felt the presence of the Holy Spirit during the prostration, during the Litany of the Saints. That was very moving."

But Kasun admitted he still can't get in his head why Pope Francis chose him. "I can't imagine why he phoned me or why he appointed me. I still think they dialed the wrong number."

However, Kasun said he has begun to accept his call and is more at peace. He said he is ready to become the best bishop that he can.

Pope Francis has often said Church leaders should have "the smell of their sheep."

Cardinal Thomas Collins lays hands on Bishop Robert Kasun to confer episcopal power on the new bishop Sept. 12 at Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Cardinal Thomas Collins lays hands on Bishop Robert Kasun to confer episcopal power on the new bishop Sept. 12 at Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica.

In Kasun's case, the Church ordained a bishop who has that smell. As pastor of St. Alphonsus and St. Clare parishes, Kasun worked and lived among the poor in Edmonton's inner city, including immigrants and homeless people.

The new bishop will be welcomed to Toronto with a Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral Oct. 6.

One of four auxiliaries, he will be responsible for the Toronto Archdiocese's central zone "which I am quite happy about because I lived in that region for 12 years a long time ago." The central zone is an area with a high percentage of immigrants and people on low incomes.

In his homily, Collins thanked the Congregation of St. Basil and the Edmonton Archdiocese "for offering a priest for service to the universal Church." Almost certainly talking to Kasun, the cardinal said a bishop is called to give himself completely to the service of the Lord and his people and "must become forgetful of self."

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

A bishop, Collins said, must humbly serve the greater good by being engaged in servant leadership. "What matters is not what the leader receives in honour or privilege but what the leader gives. Jesus rejects the narcissistic vision of leadership in which the leader's personal gratification determines the agenda. No, we are simply servants."

The diligent servant bishop works tirelessly to build up the community of faith so it may be a vibrant witness of the love of Christ in this world so much in need of that love, Collins continued.

"The bishop serves others by fidelity to the apostolic faith. We are simply stewards of the mysteries of faith; it is not ours. The faith we profess is not our own. It's Christ's and we need to be shaped by it, to be challenged by it, be formed by it. So a bishop needs to know the faith in Scripture and tradition."

Bishop Robert Kasun lies prostrate before the alter as the congregation sings the Litany of the Saints during his ordination Mass Sept. 12. Kasun's fellow Basilian, Fr. Glenn McDonald, kneels beside hiin.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Bishop Robert Kasun lies prostrate before the alter as the congregation sings the Litany of the Saints during his ordination Mass Sept. 12. Kasun's fellow Basilian, Fr. Glenn McDonald, kneels beside hiin.

Failure to exercise episcopal authority in the service of the common good is a failure in servant leadership, Collins remarked.

"It can sometimes occur precisely because a bishop is thinking too much of self and not of service. And the exercise of authority carries with it the price of unpopularity. The bishop is not his own. He serves Christ in fidelity to the Gospel. He serves the people entrusted to his care."

During the ordination ceremony, the Toronto cardinal imposed his hands on Kasun, conferring the power of the Holy Spirit. All the bishops in attendance did the same. Later, Collins presented Kasun with the ring, the mitre and the crozier - all symbols of the episcopal office.

As a sign of welcome into the episcopate, the bishops exchanged a sign of peace with Kasun.

The new bishop greets well-wishers following his ordination at a reception in the basement of St. Joseph's Basilica

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

The new bishop greets well-wishers following his ordination at a reception in the basement of St. Joseph's Basilica

During a reception at the cathedral hall, Kasun blessed well-wishers and posed for photos with them.

SASKATCHEWAN NATIVE

A native of Cudworth, Sask., Kasun was ordained a Basilian priest in 1978. He taught for a year each at schools in Indiana, Rochester, N.Y., and Sudbury, Ont. His main teaching stint was at St. Michael's College School in Toronto before heading back west to teach at St. Francis High School in Calgary.

In Calgary, he got his first taste of parish work at St. Pius X and St. Thomas More parishes while serving on the Basilians' general council and the national executive of the Canadian Religious Conference.

After 21 years in Calgary, he came to Edmonton seven years ago after the Basilians decided to centralize their Western Canadian ministries in the Alberta capital. They asked Archbishop Richard Smith for an inner-city parish they could shepherd and, after examining several, they settled on St. Alphonsus and St. Clare.

Archbishop Richard Smith has said he is delighted with Kasun's appointment.

"In the service of his people, Father Kasun has demonstrated a true pastor's heart, especially for the needy and neglected," the archbishop said in a recent statement. "The Archdiocese of Toronto is blessed to receive the many gifts that he will bring to the exercise of his episcopal ministry."