Kevin Dunn, left, interviews Bishop Scott McCaig of the Military Ordinariate of Canada for his film Permission: Fr. Bob Bedard’s Vision for the Church. Photo courtesy Kevin Dunn

Fr. Bedard champion of, for, the Church

  • November 4, 2022

Fr. Robert “Bob” Bedard (1929-2011), a beloved advocate of the Canadian and global Catholic communities, is the subject of an upcoming documentary-drama from award-winning Catholic filmmaker Kevin Dunn.

Permission: Fr. Bob Bedard’s Vision for the Church will chart Bedard’s life story from his modest beginnings growing up an only child in Ottawa leading to his legacy as a man who inspired Catholics worldwide to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit.

The film devotes plenty of attention to Bedard’s founding of the Companions of the Cross, a society of Roman Catholic priests bound by a shared mission to foster the renewal of the Church through evangelization. It’s widely considered his most important act of service to growing the Church.

Dunn had previous experience documenting the legacy and ongoing work of the Companions throughout North America, which allowed him to hear plenty of stories about Bedard.

“I got to know this incredible champion not only of the Canadian Church but of the Universal Church as a whole,” said Dunn, a three-time Gemini Award recipient. “I also learned there is a movement to open the cause of his canonization. The documentary delves deeper into his story. As a filmmaker, I love stories, I love Canadian stories, and I love stories about faith and hope. I think that Fr. Bob is one of those characters that need to be celebrated.”

Interviews have already been completed with several figures who enjoyed a close relationship with Bedard. There is Bishop Scott McCaig of the Military Ordinate of Canada, who was General Superior of the Companions of the Cross from 2006-16, and delivered the homily at Bedard’s funeral on Oct. 12, 2011. Another is with Saint John Bishop Christian Riesbeck, the first of the order’s priests appointed to the episcopacy when Pope Francis named him as the auxiliary bishop for the Ottawa-Cornwall archdiocese.

“He was preaching New Evangelization before the word even became popular,” said McCaig of Bedard in the trailer.

Multiple interviewees praise Bedard for inspiring many conversions to the Catholic faith throughout his life. And Fr. Mark Goring, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Ottawa, shared an anecdote about a woman miraculously healed from her health ailments upon touching Bedard’s cloak.

One of Bedard’s frequent sayings was, “The Church is like a sleeping giant.” The documentary strives to show how he worked to awaken that sleeping giant.  

“He had that gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven the faith when the Church really needed it,” said Dunn. “And I see today that we need that again. We need that lift of faith. We are facing really difficult times inside and outside of the Church. We need heroes and inspirational people like Fr. Bob to give us hope.”

The intent of Permission is for the thematic message to transcend beyond solely chronicling one man’s life. Dunn would like the film to encourage all viewers — particularly the younger generations — to feel they have permission to live their lives each day for God.

“Lord, I give you permission to do whatever you want in my life,” Bedard once said. “Whatever you ask me to do, Lord — I will do it.”

A praise and worship soundtrack is being developed to accompany the docudrama. One of the compositions, “Permission,” has already been unveiled. Dunn’s daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Jesse will perform all the songs. 

Dunn and his team hope to film some dramatic reenactments of key moments from Bedard’s life to maximize the film’s thematic impact. One such snapshot would be the experience that led him to embrace the charismatic movement.

“I would like to film the moment of his deepening of faith when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t as strange as he thought it would be. At first, he was a bit skeptical of the charismatics, but he realized we are all called to be charismatic. We are all called to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Once he let the Holy Spirit in, he experienced Pentecost within himself.”

A grassroots crowdfunding campaign is underway to help finance these reenactments. Dunn hopes to raise $150,000-$200,000 to cover future filming costs.

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