Where are young priests? Right here

  • June 19, 2008

Looking for bright young, spirited and inspirational priests? In despair because you believe the media mantra about the dying priesthood? Have a little faith. They're out there, believe me. I keep tripping over them, especially here at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City.

Yesterday (June 18), I met one particularly impressive rookie priest. Fr. Kevin Belgrave, a 20-something recent graduate of St. Augustine's Seminary, was ordained for the archdiocese of Toronto on May 10. At the end of this month he will start his first parish assignment at St. Luke's in that city.

We chatted after a moving prayer service for almost 500 Toronto and area pilgrims at the Ursuline Convent, home to the tomb of Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation, who founded the convent in 1639. Fr. Belgrave (I still can't get over calling someone young enough to be my son "Father") had just finished a marathon visit to all three tombs of Quebec City's famous "blesseds" — Marie de l'Incarnation, Catherine of St. Augustine and François de Laval.

The prayers at the tomb of Laval, Quebec's first bishop, particularly moved Fr. Belgrave. It was in Quebec 10 years ago that the then young university student in a French immersion program had a spiritual conversion. He had gone to Quebec after leaving Ryerson University theatre school, where he had dreams of making it on Broadway. During that eventful year in la belle provence God called to him powerfully and irresistably.

"It was then that God really decided to show me what need changing in my life. That's where I first had thoughts of the priesthood," he told me. "Now, to be back here as a new priest is really amazing."

As he was praying at the tomb of Laval, who laid the fledgling church of the colony of New France on a firm foundation back in the 17th century, Fr. Belgrave was struck by the line of continuity between the work of that early priest and his own vocation.

"I've really had a strong sense while I've been here that I'm continuing the work he started," he said.

That you are, my friend. We'll keep you in our prayers.


For more coverage by the Catholic Register on the 49th International Eucharistic Congress see:

You’ll know they are pilgrims by their backpacks

Your TV eye on the Eucharistic Congress

This just in from head office

Rain or applause?

There's plenty of elbow room

Why is it always a United Church?

Something old, something new

Those clerics are everywhere

The Eucharist is also service

More on the numbers front

Spending a little quiet time with Jesus

New priests bring new life to church

We're all softies at heart



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