By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.
On the 18th of June, Rev. William (Bill) Comerford, and the community of St. Patrick’s – Toronto, hosted a celebration for the 60th anniversary of priesthood of Fr. Bill. We began with a Eucharistic celebration at 11:00 am. This was presided over by Fr. Charles Duval C.Ss.R., our Provincial Superior. Along with Fr. Charles, Fr. Tom O’Rourke C.Ss.R., the pastor of St. Patrick parish, and our jubilarian Fr. Bill were also prominent in the sanctuary.
Fr. Bill proclaimed the Gospel and gave a homily about what all these years of priesthood have meant to him. He gave us a summary of his family ties which formed him during his early years. He told the story about how he revealed to his parish priest Reverend (later Monsignor) Paul Dwyer, a desire to become a missionary priest, but the young Bill admitted that he did not want to travel away from home. His parish priest knew of the Redemptorists who conducted parish missions in Canada. He became the bridge that helped young Bill Comerford cross over from his own family into the family of Redemptorists that began at St. Mary’s College in Brockville, Ontario.
We are grateful for all the parishioners of St. Patrick’s who provided ministers for serving, ushering and leading the beautiful music. For example, after communion we were led in a beautiful meditation called Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, which is an ancient Catholic hymn in honour of Jesus Christ, the great high priest. Fr. Bill chose to celebrate a Memorial Mass with a gloria in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Our Lady, Mother of the Church.
Our Mass was followed by a luncheon reception in the parish hall. Fr. Mark Miller C.Ss.R. our regional co-ordinator, blessed us and our meal, and led us in a prayer for our General Chapter coming up in the fall.
We are extremely grateful to Fr. Joe Ruta C.Ss.R., our rector at St. Patrick and Irene Mihaljek, the parish administrator, for orchestrating the reception. Irene along with a crew of dedicated volunteers from the parish, hand-made new tablecloths, floral centrepieces, and decorations for the hall. Along with some youth who were newly confirmed, they served us lunch and cleaned up afterward!
In the picture at the left, you can see those seated at the head table were Fr. Matthias Amuzu – Catholic chaplain of the downtown hospitals; Ms. Mary Tompach – Fr. Bill’s cousin from Pleasanton, California; Ms. Patti Chatterton – Fr. Bill’s niece from Oshawa, along with her husband Dave and daughter, Amanda.
In the picture below, you can see the Redemptorists who were able to attend from the Toronto area. Also you will see Fr. Raymond Earle – diocesan priest from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Fr. Amuzu – already mentioned above. Not included in this picture but also attending were Fr. Ray Douziech C.Ss.R. and Fr. Bach Tran C.Ss.R.
Also of note, Terry and Paula Dobbelsteyn, friends from Saint John, New Brunswick and Eduardo and Rosa Ana Ituarte, friends from Vancouver, B.C., were in attendance.
During dessert we heard four people get up and highlight some of Fr. Bill’s life and ministry over the years: Mary Cruz – ministry with the Charismatic Renewal in Toronto and area; Patti Chatterton – how with fear and trepidation she taught Fr. Bill to downhill ski when he was 60 years old and some words on behalf of Fr. Bill’s family; Michael Goodstadt – 7 years of service as pastor of Holy Name parish; Mary Klein (pictured at left) – about parish retreats, Charismatic prayer group ministry, and love for St. Alphonsus Liguori shared with Joan Green, Redemptorist Oblate.
To end off our anniversary celebration we all sang along to some old familiar tunes! We were led by the mellifluous voice of Fr. Ray Earle, the electric piano playing of Albert Masters and the electric and unabashed joyful tunes that leapt out from Fr. Bill playing his favourite harmonica.
Click here to hear their rousing rendition of Oh! Susanna!