Basilians ordain first priests in seven years

  • April 23, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - St. Basil's Church in downtown Toronto hosted the ordination of two young men to the priesthood for the Basilian order on April 19.

It was a significant day for the Basilians, as Fr. Glenn McDonald and Fr. Andrew Leung, both 29 and from Alberta, were two of only three men ordained as priests within the Basilian order in North America since 2001. The third was ordained earlier this year in Houston, Texas.

“This is very significant for the Basilian order,” said Fr. Thomas Rosica, the Master of Scholastics who oversaw the new priests' formation for three-and-a-half years. “There will also be two more ordained next year.”

There are some 250 Basilian priests worldwide. Founded in France, the order's curial offices are now in Toronto where its presence is most noteworthy at the University of St. Michael's College and St. Michael's College School. The order is also active in Windsor, Ont., and Saskatoon, as well as in Mexico, Colombia and Rome, though the majority of members are in Canada and the United States.  

 About four dozen priests attended the ordination Mass and lined up to lay their hands over the two new members following in the footsteps of the ordination's presider Coadjutor Archbishop J. Michael Miller of the archdiocese of Vancouver. Some priests did so with tears of emotion glistening in their eyes.

Rosica said that it was a privilege to accompany these men as they journeyed to the priesthood and that “they represent the new generation,” both having worked behind the scenes leading up to World Youth Day in Germany in 2005, planning the liturgies and 250 catechesis sites.   

Although it has been seven years since new faces have joined their ranks as Basilian Fathers, Rosica said McDonald and Leung are a good example of quality over quantity.

“As the Pope said the other day, it's better to have a few priests who are very good,” Rosica said.

Leung said one thing that drew him to the Basilians was the order's diversity of talents and strong sense of community.

“We were founded by 11 diocesan priests, and when I first met (Basilian priests) they were all different, all interested in different things,” he said. “It showed me that with all these characteristics, they can still be a good family.”

Leung met these priests while completing his undergraduate degree at St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta. Because the Basilian occupational charism is education, and as he was aiming to become a science teacher, he decided the order would be a “complimentary” place to continue on with that goal.

During his formation, Leung volunteered with Salt + Light Television (where Rosica is executive director), helping to oversee the Catholic broadcaster's Chinese programming. Now that he is ordained, Leung will be heading off to Hong Kong in August to improve his Chinese. He said this will help him to better serve Chinese Catholics.  

“There are four Chinese parishes in Toronto, and it's embarrassing if you can't do a Mass in Chinese and have to do it all in English,” he said.

Leung said he would like to get back into teaching high school science in the future, but of course that will only be determined later on.

McDonald, on the other hand, will continue working at Christ the King parish in Rochester, N.Y., where he was a deacon for the past year, although he also would not mind teaching, he said.

McDonald, who completed his degree in engineering, also at St. Joseph's College, said that unlike Leung, he never seriously considered teaching as an option in life until he met Basilian priests and someone “brought up the question.” Once he got the chance to teach Grade 10 math at St. Michael's College School last year, he really learned to appreciate it.

“The key, looking back on my formation, the most important experience was my teaching year,” he said. “If you can hold a 15-year-old's attention, you can hold anyone's attention.”

Working with Salt + Light as the producer of four episodes of its Focus program also helped him develop his skills in taking “head knowledge” and putting it in a form that people can understand, he said.

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