Marie Deans chosen to lead Pontifical Missions Societies

  • March 8, 2007
TORONTO - The Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of People has appointed Toronto's Marie Deans as the next national director of the Canadian English sector of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
In April, Deans will replace Sr. Leona Spencer, CSJ, who will step down after her second five-year term as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Deans said she believes she is the first lay person to assume this role.

"I see this as a rolling of the goals of Vatican II. It identified many years ago an increased role of the laity. I just never thought it would be me," said Deans.  

"Is it a different role for the lay person? Absolutely. Does it suggest our role is any more important than it always was? Probably not."

Dean will head the four Pontifical Mission Societies in the English sector of Canada, including the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Society of Saint Peter the Apostle, which deals with   seminaries in the Third World, Holy Childhood Association, which focuses on mission work in Canadian schools, particularly elementary schools, and Missionary Union of Clergy and Religious, a group that dedicates its prayer life to mission work.

Deans will report to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Deans said her goal is to promote the importance of evangelization not only in Canada, but also in the Third World.

"Certainly, Canada being part of the First World, we have a responsibility to provide supports for folk in the Third World and to help them arrive eventually at the same position we're in."

Another of Deans' goals is to improve upon her French, which she once studied in high school. Deans doesn't consider herself bilingual, although this was one of the job requirements. The same position exists in French Canada. 

Deans has worked as a principal, vice principal, department head and teacher for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. She graduated from the University of Toronto with an education degree and an honours degree in arts from the University of St. Michael's College. Later she pursued a master's degree in education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and a diploma in dispute resolution.

Deans has been involved in her parish in areas such as a marriage preparation facilitator, lector and a member of parish council.

Deans said she knew she was short-listed and was pleasantly surprised to find out she had been selected.

"I am very honoured and humbled to assume this role."

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