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Monday November 09, 2015

 

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Written by Alan Hustak for VMO
Thursday, November 6th, 2014

English-speaking priests in the archdiocese who have died were remembered at a Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica this week. 

The Mass was attended by more than 30 of their brother priests. Bishop Thomas Dowd celebrated the memorial Mass for Rev. Alan Cox, the only priest in the archdiocese who died in the past year.

Father Cox was the chaplain of Laval Catholic High School and a well-known social activist who organized Saturday subway rides into Montreal so his students could engage in good works and help families in poorer neighborhoods. 

He mentored NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who credits Fr. Cox with inspiring him.  Until Cox died last November at the age of 78, Mulcair referred to him as an advisor.

Father Alan Cox served as Pastoral Animator of Laval Catholic High School from 1967 to 2000 and of Sacred Heart Middle School from 1986 to 2000.

After Father Cox retired, he continued to celebrate Mass at these same schools now known as Laurier Senior High School and Mother Teresa Junior High School.  He is perhaps best remembered in the parish as the priest who persuaded Mother Teresa to visit his students when she was in Montreal in 1986. He also organized working field trips to Europe where his charges were expected to work with the downtrodden while on vacation.

In his homily, retired priest  Father Jack Kennedy reminded about 100 people who attended the service that priests still play an important role in the community, which isn’t often acknowledged or appreciated.   He asked the faithful to remember  “how rich we are as we look back and see the foundations they have laid for us to build upon, each with their gifts and talents.

“God has called us to build his church with the guidance and with the  gifts of the priests we remember today,”  he said. “We are ordained to build a bridge between God and those who have anxieties about their relationship with Him.”

To illustrate his point, he told a personal anecdote about a truck driver he once encountered,  “a powerhouse of a man in a cutaway Harley-Davidson shirt” whose disdain for religion was obvious.  The trucker showed up at a retreat Kennedy was preaching at during one of the coldest November weekends on record and declared his contempt for priests.  He appeared surly and belligerent and whenever Kennedy began to preach he walked out of the room.   When the retreat ended, however, the truck driver embraced  Father Kennedy and in tears told him he was “leaving a peaceful man.”

Puzzled, Kennedy wondered what had caused the change in the man’s attitude. The truck driver told him that he had listened to the sermons from a corridor outside, had been moved by what he heard, but was too stubborn to admit it.

Kennedy said he never forgot the experience because, he said: “There is a little bit of him in me, a little bit of him in all of us.” Father Kennedy asked parishioners to pray for the clergy as they continue their struggle “to be peacemakers in a troubled world.”

 

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