By MC Havey, Archivist
An engraved chalice belonging to Fr. George Daly has become part of the vocations project for religious vocations in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Under the Toronto Serra Travelling Vocations Chalice Program, families sign up at their parish to take a chalice home for a week to pray for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. A vocations prayer, a pamphlet of the mysteries of the rosary and a biography accompany the chalice, enshrined in a plexiglass case, as part of the remembrance of the priest who used the chalice.
Donated to the Edmonton-Toronto Archives by the Sisters of Service in 2012, Fr. Daly’s chalice, the second in the program, will be placed at Padre Pio parish, northwest of Toronto. Provincial Superior Fr. Mark Miller selected the chalice, which was inscribed on the occasion of Fr. Daly’s golden jubilee of ordination in 1948.
For the English-speaking Redemptorists, Fr. Daly (1872-1956) was a major figure with a focused vision to expand the Church’s presence among immigrants following the First World War. A native of Montréal, he grew up in the Belgium Redemptorist parish of St. Ann’s. At the age of 16, he entered Novitiate in St. Trond, Belgium, where he professed first vows on October 5, 1890. After ordination on September 10, 1898, he returned to Canada in 1900 as a rising bilingual star with much potential. During the next 12 years at the minor seminary at Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupré, a series of appointments followed as socius, prefect of students and as seminary director.
In 1912, Fr. Daly returned to his home parish of St. Ann’s in Montréal as its first rector under the new Vice-Province of Toronto. He organized an orphanage and kindergarten as well as supported St. Ann’s Young Men’s Association. As part of the English-Canadian Redemptorist expansion into Western Canada, he was sent in 1915 as rector of the newly-built Holy Rosary Cathedral in Regina. In this farthest west of the Redemptorist Canadian foundations, Fr. Daly used every minute to learn and travel about the booming area, which was dominated by the Protestant and English culture. He gave retreats in the poorest areas and established the Catholic Truth Society in Saskatchewan. However, it was his free-wheeling ways, use of modern technology of telephones and automobiles, friendships with politicians and bishops as well as his public appearances for the war effort which caused his superiors to conclude that Fr. Daly did not have the proper humility and adherence to poverty.
Removed abruptly in 1918, he was transferred as a missionary to St. Peter’s, Saint John, where he wrote Catholic Problems in Western Canada, which outlined plans for the Canadian Church’s expansion in the West. A prolific writer, Fr. Daly published four other books as well as numerous articles.
In 1922, Fr. Daly was assigned to raise funds and find candidates for a new women’s religious community, the Sisters of Service. For the next 34 years until his death, Fr. Daly guided the spiritual life of the community, oversaw its financial matters and the founding of 32 missions, which provided the Church’s presence among immigrants. With a beaming smile, outstretched hand, boundless energy, an apostle’s determination along with an executive’s organizational skill, Fr. Daly possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and engaging personality.
For the Toronto Province as consultor in two three-year terms (1936-1942), Fr. Daly was involved in the decisions to continue the Western Canadian expansion in Dawson Creek, BC (1936); Williams Lake, BC (1938); Nelson, BC (1939); Athabasca, AB (1940) as well as the temporary pastoral care in Wells, BC (1941) and Claresholm, AB (1941) during the Second World War.
When he died of cancer on June 3, 1956 in St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Fr. Daly was the oldest confrere in the Toronto Province at the age of 83. In a filled St. Patrick’s church, Cardinal James McGuigan of Toronto sang the Solemn High Mass and delivered the sermon, noting Fr. Daly’s contribution to Catholic Canada. His body is buried in the Redemptorist plot at Mount Hope cemetery, Toronto.