Cardinal Thomas Collins lays his hands on the head of newly ordained Bishop Robert Kasun. Kasun was ordained a bishop Sept. 12 in Edmonton and will be an auxiliary bishop of Toronto. Photo by Ramon Gonzalez

Toronto’s newest bishop has ‘smell of the sheep'

By  Glen Argan, Canadian Catholic News
  • September 13, 2016

EDMONTON – Toronto’s newest auxiliary bishop was called to be a servant leader, “a man for others,” in his episcopal ordination Mass Sept. 12 at St. Joseph’s Basilica.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, in his homily, told Bishop Robert Kasun that a priest must reject the narcissism in which the leader’s personal agenda directs his actions.

“A priest is called to give himself completely to the service of the Lord and His people,” Collins said.

This is doubly so for a bishop who has received the fullness of the priesthood, he said.

“The diligent servant-bishop works tirelessly to build up the community of faith so that they be vibrant witnesses in this world.”

Kasun, 64, wept openly as he distributed Communion to the congregation in the packed Edmonton basilica where Collins served seven years as archbishop. Numerous parishioners from Kasun’s inner-city St. Alphonsus and St. Clare parishes were evident in the congregation, while members of Kasun’s Basilian order were out in force to witness their brother’s ordination.

The new auxiliary bishop is clearly one prelate who lives up to Pope Francis’ call for Church leaders to have the smell of the sheep. At St. Alphonsus, he initiated an English as a second language program for temporary foreign workers, which enabled participants not only to learn more English, but also to reflect together on their experiences of discrimination and exclusion.

St. Alphonsus-St. Clare has also run an annual neighbourhood street barbecue, a collective kitchen for women and various forms of outreach to Inner City Housing Society residences. Further, the parishes have run successful drives for food, clothing and household goods for other agencies.

A native of tiny Cudworth, Sask., Kasun attended St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon where he joined the Basilians. Sent to Toronto for further studies, he was ordained a priest there in 1978 and taught at St. Michael’s College School for many years. He came to Alberta 28 years ago where he was a high school teacher in Calgary before serving as a pastor in both Calgary and Edmonton. There he made his mark as a priest of the streets and friend to immigrants, experience that will help him as he now serves the central region of the Toronto archdiocese with its large population of immigrants from around the world.

Collins could have been speaking directly about Kasun when he said, “The bishop needs to be forgetful of self in serving all people, especially those who are most wounded and vulnerable.”

(Western Catholic Reporter)

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