Bishop-elect Thomas Dowd will continue to blog once ordained a bishop.

Blogging priest will be Canada's youngest bishop

  • July 19, 2011

OTTAWA — When Bishop-elect Thomas Dowd is ordained to the episcopacy on Sept. 10 as auxiliary bishop of Montreal, he will be the youngest bishop in Canada and the second youngest in the world.

And Dowd, being of a wired, media-savvy generation, posted the July 11 official announcement on Facebook. He was thrilled to see that within five seconds somebody “liked” it.

Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the future bishop's media savvy goes. He is also a bloggist, and has been for some time. He plans to continue blogging, a hobby he has pursued as a priest at since 2003. He began the blog because people in the parish he served only saw him on Sundays and wondered what he did during the other days of the week.

“So many amazing things happen as a priest,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a great life. If a person wants to lead a boring life don’t go into the priesthood.

“Here I am experiencing all these blessings. People like to know about them, so I’ll use the blog as a medium,” he said.

He planned on one post per day on something that happened that day to open to readers “the mysterious world of what priests do and what a priest’s life is like.” So far, response has been “phenomenal.” Dowd described the blog as a “tool to build communion and bring parishioners closer to him.”

Dowd said he was stunned when apostolic nuncio Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana told him Pope Benedict XVI had selected him to be a bishop.

“At the same time, he reassured me they had thought this through and it wasn’t some crazy whim, so I accepted,” he said.

The nuncio told him: “It’s true that you are young, but this is a defect time will take care of on its own.”

When Dowd met with Quintana in Ottawa in early July, blogging came up in the conversation and whether he would continue to do so as a bishop.

“The nuncio himself encouraged me,” he said.

Born in 1970 — he will turn 41 the day after his ordination at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral — Dowd grew up in a faithful Catholic family that went to church every Sunday. He and his father teamed up as readers for Sunday Mass.

“When I was a little kid I wanted to be a priest, a fireman and astronaut,” he said. As he got older, the notion of being an astronaut went “out the window,” but the priesthood was still there.

But he didn’t pursue it. Instead he went to business school and got a degree in international business and finance from Concordia University.

“Business school is a better preparation for the priesthood than one might think,” he said.

From Concordia, he went on to work for the Swedish multinational Erickson in telecom communications. He had a “great job, a promising career,” but the call to the priesthood was still there, but not 100-per-cent clear.

Dowd experienced the call as an invitation — “God never beat me over the head with it.” The Holy Spirit seemed to be giving him a choice: to continue his career or go into the priesthood. He realized if he did not answer the call, he would never know, so he decided to go into the seminary. 

“It turned out it really was my call.”

For the past five years, Dowd has been doing administrative work for the Montreal archdiocese where he has been in charge of welcoming priests from other backgrounds, something his business background in cross-cultural communication prepared him for very well.

Since he was ordained to the priesthood in 2001, he has served as a parish priest, hospital chaplain, seminary professor and secular university professor.

Becoming a bishop will be a “big adventure,” he said, though he joked he will have to learn when to “take the hat on and off.”

Though his blogging slowed down a bit when he began working in administration and dealing with confidential files, he expects that people will be soon asking him, “What does a bishop do all day? What is the life of a bishop like?”

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