Fr. Jonathan Morris said Jesus' way is simple: mercy, humility, truth and service.


Fr. Jonathan Morris said Jesus' way is simple: mercy, humility, truth and service.

June 15, 2015

In his talk at a packed black tie event, American author Father Jonathan Morris said he wanted to deliver a similar message to what the late Father Denis Hebert would have said.

Morris, who answered the call to the priesthood after spending time as a young man in Central America, delivered a speech entitled The Joy of Gospel Living: Answering Pope Francis' Call to Humility and Service, after learning about the work that Hebert was doing through his charity in Nicaragua.

Referring to an inscription at the front of his recently-published book, The Way of Serenity, Morris said he wrote "Thank you Francis, for teaching me again that Jesus' way is simple: mercy, humility, truth and service."

"Does that sound a little bit similar to what Father Denis might've said way before Pope Francis? Way, way, way before Pope Francis?" he asked.

Seven weeks after Hebert's death, more than 250 guests were on hand to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his charity Roots of Change Foundation at a gala fundraiser on June 4 at the Italian Cultural Centre in Edmonton.

Morris said the Christian life, the human life, is not that complicated. It has to do with doing what we know is right.

Doing what is right is the message of Hebert and the message of John the Baptist, who when asked by the crowds in the Gospel, began his instructions with "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise."

God has given us a voice of conscience, said Morris, which says some things are always and everywhere wrong, and some things are always right.

Then there is the grey area, when you are not sure what to do, in which there is one simple direction that Pope Francis is telling us we could use:

"Lead with mercy," said Morris. "Lead with mercy, start off with mercy. Start off with forgiveness, start off with repentance, start off with humility, start off without judging, start off with acceptance," he said.

John the Baptist wore clothes made of camel's hair, ate locusts and honey, and people flocked to the desert to see him.

Maybe, said Morris, it was his humility that made him so attractive because what he wore and ate were so unattractive that people knew that he had something special going on, that he was countercultural.


In a society where Hollywood, television and our friends often tell us we have to live for ourselves in order to create a great legacy, Hebert also went countercultural because he did not live for himself, said Morris.

"The fact that I am here today and that I have been connected to the life of Father Denis and your lives is because a man named Father Denis decided to live for others. Isn't that wild?"

Hebert died on April 14 at the age of 84. He spent 11 years in parish ministry in Alberta and 46 years serving the poor in Latin America.

The last 15 years of his life was dedicated to the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua, for whom he founded Roots of Change, an Edmonton-based charity, and its sister charity FUNDACCO, which is run by Nicaraguans in Nicaragua.

Currently, the charity has about 70 active projects including medical clinics, a multipurpose outdoor sports facility, and projects helping to bring potable water to communities in Nicaragua.