60 years of service: Celebration to honour dedication of Colin Clay, Bernard de Margerie

 — May 26, 201826 mai 2018

Rev. Canon Colin Clay and Rev. Bernard de Margerie share a unique connection. On June 1, 1958, both were ordained for Christian ministry, one as an Anglican, the other as a Catholic.

Clay, along with 15 deacons and 14 other priests, was ordained at 800-year-old Southwark Anglican Cathedral in London, England. The congregation was so large the event was ticketed and it was, Clay says, “a very long service.”

On the same day, de Margerie was the only priest ordained at Saint-Philippe-Neri Roman Catholic Parish in Vonda, Sask. The day, he says, was extremely cold and Mass was held outdoors. He points to a photograph of the small gathering where his parents are sitting under blankets.

de Margerie’s call to the priesthood came in high school when he was studying with Jesuits in Winnipeg/St. Boniface. His inclination was to become a Jesuit priest, until his bishop advised him, “The francophone community of Saskatchewan needs more leadership than the Jesuits need you, Bernard.”

“He weighted my decision to pastorally serve Catholic population of Saskatchewan,” de Margerie says.

He was ordained to the Diocese of Saskatoon and assigned to Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens francophone Parish. He also taught Latin, French, and Religion at St. Paul’s Boys High School. He would eventually serve in 12 parishes, city and rural, and do hospital chaplaincy.

On January 25, 1959, de Margerie heard Pope John XXIII call a general council of the world’s Catholic bishops at which he would articulate one of his great aims, to make an effort to overcome divisions among Christians.

“I knew instantly that was my call — to work for Christian reconciliation and unity,” de Margerie says. “It was loud and clear, never contradicted.”

de Margerie became involved in Saskatoon Council of Churches and took part in many ecumenical endeavours and dialogues. In 1984, he established the Saskatoon Centre for Ecumenism (later, Prairie Centre for Ecumenism). Initially it was a Catholic centre, but in 1987, it was reformed as a fully ecumenically sponsored agency. In 2014, the centre celebrated its 40-year anniversary.

A priest in Clay’s Anglican parish had an enormous influence on the teenage boys in his pastoral care. Nine of them, including Clay, were ordained for ministry.

Following a deployment with the British Army to Korea, Clay studied history at Cambridge. From there he moved on to Wells Cathedral in the Mendip Hills for two years of seminary. After his ordination, he was posted to a South London parish.

It was during his time there that Clay received a note from a fellow Anglican priest, now serving in Canada mentioning the need for priests in Ontario. He urged Colin to apply. In 1959, Clay and his young family accepted a posting in Sudbury, where Clay was involved pastorally, and also taught Religious Studies at Laurentian University.

Being a Korean War veteran and a military padre, it was Clay’s involvement in that area of ministry that brought him to Saskatoon. He was in the city as an ‘examining chaplain,’ meeting with a candidate, when he heard about an ecumenical chaplaincy position that was coming available at the U of S.

He applied and was hired to the position in 1977.

Today, Clay still serves as padre for the 506 Veterans Organization.

“Because I’m a vet, I’m also passionate about world peace,” he says. “I saw the smoke going up when our planes dropped napalm on Korea. My license plate is VANA, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms.”

Clay and de Margerie became colleagues and close friends through their shared involvement in ecumenical and interfaith endeavours in the city. They are both actively involved with the Muslim community and Multifaith Saskatoon.

Therefore, perhaps it is not surprising that a joint event is planned to celebrate their unique, yet shared sixty years of priesthood.

A Solemn Evensong service in their honour will be held at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral on Sunday, June 3, at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Anglican Bishop Tom Morgan will speak, and an amalgamated choir will contribute music.

“Reflecting on our 60 years of priesthood is humbling,” says Clay. “The service is a celebration of thanksgiving to God, and gratitude to all who have surrounded us on our journey.”

A service for the francophone community will be held at 10 a.m. that same day at Saint-Martyrs-Canadians church.

Bernard de Margerie claims two late passions in life. One is a modest ministry building bridges with local Muslims on a faith level. He goes every Friday to pray at the Mosque. His other passion is the study of cosmology and its connection with Christian faith.

Colin Clay is in the process of writing his memoirs which will run to six volumes. As a historian and a preacher man, he says, both contribute to making him wordy.

Posted: May 26, 2018 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=14103
Categories: NewsIn this article: Bernard de Margerie, ecumenism, Saskatoon
Transmis : 26 mai 2018 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=14103
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Bernard de Margerie, ecumenism, Saskatoon

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