Bishop Gary Gordon

Bishop Gary Gordon

October 6, 2014
EVAN BOUDREAU
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

Look to the peripheries for it is there you'll find the suffering, the marginalized and Jesus Christ.

"Where you meet Jesus is in the peripheries and on the edges," said Bishop Gary Gordon, a veteran missionary priest. "I have met Jesus so many times in the peripheries."

Although Gordon now serves the Diocese of Victoria, a position he has held since June 14, he says being an urban priest was never his intention.

"It is not that I wanted to be a priest, I wanted to be a missionary," he said recalling his decision to enter the seminary. "I wanted to tell people about the Lord and about the good news of our faith."

Although Gordon spent eight years on the geographical periphery as bishop of Whitehorse, he stressed Jesus can be found and mission work needs to be done in other places.

"There is an existential periphery too and that is right here in Toronto where you've got people on the margins," he said. "What we would call an existential margin (is) really a lived reality of being on the edges and that can be anywhere."

Gordon delivered his message to students at Neil McNeil High School Sept. 22. He was in

Toronto as part of a partnership between the Toronto Catholic District School Board and Catholic Missions in Canada.

EYE-OPENING

Hearing this message sparked a fire in Eric Watson, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student.

"It is very eye opening," he said. "A lot of people don't notice the people in the periphery. In Toronto, we actually have to realize that people are in the periphery and we actually have to do something about it."

Watson has already completed his 40 hours of community service – a requirement set by the Ministry of Education for all students in publicly-funded education – but will continue his outreach by joining Neil McNeil's Men of Fire.

Men of Fire is a group that places students on the streets of Toronto to support the impoverished as well as providing participants with a first-hand look at the periphery.

FINDING JESUS

For Gordon, working with the marginalized is his life because that is where, over and over, he finds Jesus.

"I have a lot of interesting friends your moms and dads would not want me to bring . . . over," said Gordon referring to those he's met in prison ministry. "They are my friends because I got to meet Jesus in them.

"Wherever there is a margin or a periphery, like the very edge of the world, whether it is an inner city edge or a globe edge or a geographical edge like northern Canada, you'll find (Christ)."

The partnership exposes students to the work of Catholic Missions in Canada by bringing in high-profile missionaries to share their experiences.

Joining Gordon this year were Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, Prince George Bishop Stephen Jensen and Bishop Peter Hundt of Corner Brook and Labrador.