Msgr. Philip Kennedy is one of the seven priests in the Archdiocese of Toronto granted "Chaplain of His Holiness" by Pope Francis March 23. Photo by Michael Swan

Seven Toronto-area priests named Chaplain of His Holiness

  • March 23, 2017

It's a blessing that he didn't expect, said newly appointed Msgr. John Borean.

Borean and six fellow priests from the Archdiocese of Toronto were granted the title of “Chaplain of His Holiness" by Pope Francis. Cardinal Thomas Collins announced the appointments March 23, noting the priests’ “tremendous contributions to the Church.” The title means the priests will be referred to as monsignor.

"I think every priest in the diocese works hard and everyone deserves the honour to be recognized, so I was really honoured by that and thankful," said Borean, pastor of St. Clare of Assisi parish in Woodbridge, Ont. "I'm grateful for what the Holy Spirit has given me in my ministry over the years."

Msgr. Philip Kennedy, former president of Catholic Missions in Canada, said he is honoured to be recognized among these group of long-serving priests. Kennedy said he has seen first-hand the dedication of many of his fellow monsignors and he is humbled to have his name mentioned with them.

"It's a real variety of ministries we've all been involved in," said Kennedy, who is currently on sabbatical and returning to parish ministry in July at St. Theresa's Parish in Scarborough, Ont. "The Cardinal chooses these, I guess, because he's giving an example to all the other priests on the effectiveness of various kinds of ministry and activity in the Church, as a leadership model. That's what this particular variety of priests, who are now monsignors, will be showing to the world and to the diocese."

All seven monsignors will be honoured at a special Chrism Mass on April 11.

"These men are pioneers in the diocese," said Msgr. Thomas Kalarathil, director of clergy personnel and chaplaincy office in Archdiocese of Toronto. "These priests really nourished these communities and kept them together."

Kalarathil, a member of the consultation committee for the appointments, said it is important for the Cardinal to recognize the work of local priests that contribute to the vibrant life of the archdiocese. Kalarathil was among six Toronto priests that were last recognized as monsignors or "Honorary Chaplains of His Holiness" in 2014.

The title of "Honorary Chaplain of His Holiness," by Church guidelines, is given to priests nominated by the local bishop and approved by the Pope. Guidelines were introduced by Pope Francis in late 2013 requiring nominees to have distinguished their service to the Church and to be above the age of 65. The reform was meant to discourage "clerical careerism" in the Church.

This year's appointed monsignors are:

Msgr. Allen Arbour: Ordained on May 28, 1960, Mgsr. Allen was first assigned to St. James Parish in Toronto and over 10 years served in four different parishes. He joined St. Michael’s Choir School in 1973 and remained there for most of the next 30 years, first as a teacher and then as visiting chaplain. He retired in 2012.

Msgr. John Borean: He was ordained in 1978 and served in several parishes around the GTA, including St. Wilfrid’s, Our Lady of the Airways in Mississauga and St. Peter’s in Woodbridge. He has been pastor at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Woodbridge since 1995.

Msgr. Gregory Choi: Msgr. Choi was ordained in 1976, serving first at St. John the Baptist Parish in Toronto and then at the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was appointed pastor of St. Andrew Kim’s Parish in 1982.

Msgr. James Hannah: Ordained in 1974, Msgr. Hannah has held several posts through his career, including director of Lay Ministry and Chaplaincy at the Archdiocese of Toronto for 12 years and pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.

Msgr. Philip Kennedy: Msgr. Kennedy, ordained in 1983, was first appointed to St. Anne’s Parish in Brampton before going to the Diocese of Thunder Bay for six years. He joined the Pontifical Missions Societies in 1995 for six years. Following stops at parishes in Scarborough and Colgan, Ont., he served as president of Catholic Missions in Canada from 2006-2016.

Msgr. Peter Pham-Hoang-Ba: Ordained in Vietnam in 1975, his first appointment in Canada was at St. Cecilia’s Parish in Toronto. For three years he was at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Mississauga before moving to Sts. Martha and Mary. Since 2005, he has been involved with the Vietnamese community at SS Salvador Do Mundo Parish in Mississauga.

Msgr. Vid Vlasic: Following ordination in 1979, he was appointed to St. Mary Star of the Sea in Mississauga and later to St. Anne’s in Brampton. His work eventually took him to Merciful Redeemer Parish in Mississauga, where he was pastor from 2003 until January 2017.

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