Fr. Williams’ 40-year career at Michael Power/St. Joseph's fondly remembered

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  • February 24, 2011
Fr WilliamsTORONTO - Basilian Father Albert Lawrence Williams was like a “grandfather” to students and teachers at Toronto’s Michael Power/St. Joseph High School.

Known as “Fr. Bob” to his friends, Williams died on Feb. 15, leaving behind a four-decade legacy as a teacher at Michael Power/St. Joseph.

He also taught at St. Michael’s College School and was a former Secretary General of the Basilian Fathers.

Lorraine Preston, a teacher for 25 years at Michael Power/St. Joseph, was joined by other teachers from the school for a Feb. 18 wake at the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre.

“He was a wonderful person. He was like a grandfather,” Preston said.

The school flew its flag at half-mast in memory of Fr. Williams.

Teacher Joan McGivney, who used to work in the school’s chaplaincy department, said Fr. Williams “could speak to anyone in any age, any religion.”

“His big thing was (saying) ‘You are the salt of the Earth,’ ” she said. This was one of many messages from his homilies that people most remembered.

French teacher Mary Adair recalls going to confession as a student when Fr. Williams was the school’s confessor. He was considered a mentor by students and teachers, she said, adding that many will miss his “dynamic” personality.

Lorraine Carey, Fr. William’s cousin, said he was surrounded by friends and family during his final hours at West Park Hospital where he’d been staying for the past few years. On that day, staff member after staff member came to say “goodbye.”

Carey said this was a testament to how Fr. Williams connected with people.

“He was always so friendly, a wonderful person and always had a smile,” she said.

Fr. Williams had a “bubbly personality and yet he could be very serious,” Carey recalled.

Fr. Williams was born on June 11, 1926 in Toronto. He attended St. James Elementary School and St. Michael’s College School. In 1945, he entered the Congregation of St. Basil and was professed a year later. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Western Ontario through Assumption College, Windsor, Ont., and studied theology at St. Basil’s Seminary.

After being ordained as a Basilian priest in 1954, he received masters’ degrees from Rosary College (Library Science) and Loyola University (Religious Education) in Chicago.

Fr. Williams was also a chaplain for the catechetical program at Holy Rosary parish and for the Basilian lay associates.

His funeral was on Feb. 19 at Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre and he was laid to rest in the Basilian plot at Thornhill’s Holy Cross Cemetery.

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