Article by: M.C. Havey, Archivist, Edmonton-Toronto Province
The Redemptorists of the Edmonton-Toronto have donated the media records of Rev. Matthew Meehan, their prominent religious broadcaster, to the Archives of Ontario.
Fr. Meehan’s 46-year career in religious broadcasting is likely the longest in Canada. After an examination of his media records, staff at the Archives of Ontario deemed them significance to the history of Ontario.
Fr. James Mason, director of the Edmonton-Toronto Archives, signed a donor agreement with the Archives of Ontario in late November. A few weeks later with the help of novices, Gerard Carroll, Anthony Michalik and David Varghese, the records were delivered to the Archives of Ontario, now located in a new building on the main campus of York University.
signing the donor agreement. L-R:Redemptorist Archivist M.C. Havey, Carol Hopp, Archivist of the Archives of Ontario, Fr. James Mason, Director of the Redemptorist Archives. Fr. Meehan’s photo is in the foreground. Image courtesy of the Archives of Edmonton-Toronto Redemptorists
Fr. Meehan began broadcasting in 1947 on the TransCanada Catholic Hour, a weekly series on CBC radio. Specializing on family and social issues, these radio broadcasts continued until 1962.
In 1950, Bishop Ryan of Hamilton asked Fr. Meehan to start a weekly half-hour radio programme at CHML 900 in Hamilton. In 1957, Ken Soble, owner of both CHML and CHCH-TV, invited Fr. Meehan also to produce a weekly television at the new Hamilton television station. The topics covered various contemporary social and religious issues, especially on his phone-in show on CHML. He retired from broadcasting on CHCH in 1993 and died on July 26, 1998.
The records also include Fr. Meehan’s columns for The Register, Canadian Messenger and Challenge as well as his contributions to The Toronto Star.
From 1964, he wrote many of the scripts and columns in his office at the Redemptorist Provincial headquarters in Toronto. The material was transferred to the Redemptorist Archives after his death.
Outside the Archives of Ontario during the delivery of the media records of Fr. Meehan, L-R: Novice Gerard Carroll, Novice David Varghese, Carol Hopp (Archivist of the Archives of Ontario), M.C. Havey (Archivist of the Edmonton-Toronto Redemptorists. Photo by Novice Anthony Michalik
Fr. Meehan was born on April 27, 1913 in Toronto and entered the Redemptorist Novitiate in 1931. After ordination on June 20, 1937 and a doctoral degree in Rome in 1940, he taught at St. Alphonsus Seminary, Woodstock until 1952. Successive appointments were as director and rector of St. Mary’s College, Brockville, ON (1952-1959) and rector of his home parish of St. Patrick’s, Toronto (1959-1964).
Besides his broadcasting and writing after the Second Vatican Council, he also served as director of communications for the Toronto Redemptorists (1964-1969) and Director of Radio-TV Office for the Hamilton Diocese (1972-1984) as well as teaching homiletics to seminarians. He also preached parish missions, retreats, novenas, encounter sessions for engaged and married couples, and specialized in Retrouvaille weekends for separated and divorced Catholics.
Fr. Meehan on the CHCH-TV set at Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, 1992. Image courtesy of the Archives of Edmonton-Toronto Redemptorists