Fr. Sylvio Lacar is now serving at Ma-Me-O Beach after being a prison chaplain at 3 federal penitentiaries.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Fr. Sylvio Lacar is now serving at Ma-Me-O Beach after being a prison chaplain at 3 federal penitentiaries.

July 25, 2016
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Father Sylvio Lacar is a man who, for the past 50 years, has nurtured not only his own faith, but also that of prisoners and parishioners.

At the moment, he is doing pastoral work, saying Mass for parishioners at Ma-Me-O Beach.

But before that, this native of the Philippines said the Lord directed him to the prison ministry.

He was surprised he ended up working with prisoners. Did he expect that was the form his ministry would take? "Not in my wildest dreams." But he followed his Lord's direction.

So Lacar came to Canada and worked in three of the nation's federal prisons.

"It's a hidden ministry in every sense of the word," said Lacar.

He worked alongside every Christian church, plus imams, rabbis and even wiccans.

Lacar has compassion for the inmates and saw a lack of religious grounding in their lives. This secular culture results in not enough emphasis on nurturing the inmates' religion, said Lacar.

When Kingston Penitentiary closed in 2014, Lacar knew he wanted to make a change after 27 years of pastoral work with inmates.

He sought work that would give him "some involvement in parish work," and so came to Sacred Heart Parish in Wetaskiwin in July 2014.

This year is Lacar's 50th anniversary as a priest. He was ordained in the Philippines April 2, 1966.

To mark the occasion, he and his extended family from Canada, Australia and the Philippines, all journeyed to Rome.

While there, Lacar celebrated Mass in front of St. Peter's Tomb and saw Pope Francis three times, twice at Masses and once at a general audience.

This is a man who knew he wanted to be a priest when he was 12 years old.

When asked how he made this decision at such a young age, Lacar's answer is firm and swift. "My family is a strong Catholic family."

Lacar came from a family of eight children and he was "in the middle."

Faith was a part of their everyday life and Lacar's father worked for the Church doing everything from sexton – the person responsible for maintenance of the church building, its grounds and parish cemetery – to prayer leader.

Now, at 73, Lacar "makes it a point to attend every chance to concelebrate."

Calling the priesthood "a blessing," Lacar plans to continue in his goal to nurture the faith of others.