Paul Finn (Photo by Emanuel Pires

Soon-to-be priest finds it’s never too late

  • April 21, 2013

TORONTO - Paul Finn, 53, can’t point to that one moment that compelled him to study for the priesthood.

“But I can look back now and I can see how God was constantly giving me signs of His presence whether or not I was prepared to do His will,” Finn told the audience gathered for this year’s Ordinandi Dinner in Toronto.

On June 29, Finn will be ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese of Kingston.

Growing up in the small town of Gananoque near Kingston, there were a lot of Catholic influences during Finn’s early years.

“There was a convent across the street from our house, the church and school were nearby and one of my uncles was a Jesuit priest,” he said, also mentioning his parents who — although they didn’t live to see him enter St. Augustine’s Seminary — played a prominent role in fostering his vocation.

Upon completing high school, Finn viewed the priesthood as an “eventual possibility.”

Studying history and philosophy at the University of Toronto, he became very interested in the history and political economy of the Soviet Union. This led him to pursue a masters in Russian and European Studies at Ottawa’s Carleton University, and eventually, landed him a job as a policy analyst for the Canadian Wheat Board in Winnipeg (the Soviet Union was Canada’s biggest wheat customer at the time).

“I didn’t abandon the Church,” he said. “The idea of studying for the priesthood never quite went away, but once I was working… it was hard to make a change.”

During this time, Finn travelled across central Asia, to Moscow, East Berlin and other European capitals.

Moving to Ottawa in 1997 to work for the federal government in policy analysis, he started to think about the priesthood more seriously. In particular, after his parents passed away.

“Was I really going to be happy at the end of my life if I suppressed this call?” he wondered.

Given that pilgrimage was always an important tradition in his family, he travelled to Fatima to put his vocation in the hands of Our Lady.

“Finally, I told the Lord, ‘I’ll take what comes. Let your will be done.’ ”

(Santilli is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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