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R.I.P. Father John Walsh – Thank You

A much loved Montreal Catholic priest, Father John Emmitt Walsh, passed away suddenly yesterday. He was preparing to celebrate the funeral of a close friend when he suffered a major heart attack. He was seventy-eight.

Click above to hear my interview with Ken Connors about Father John Walsh on CJAD 800

Father Walsh was many things to many people including, a theologian, a parish priest, a pastor, an author, a professor, a radio host and, my first boss. That was thirty-six years ago. I’d had bosses in summer jobs of course, but this was my first ‘real’ job.

Father Walsh was many things to many people including, a theologian, a parish priest, a pastor, an author, a professor, a radio host and, my first boss

In the early autumn of 1984, then Pope John Paul II visited Canada. The Archdiocese of Montreal decided not to spend money on professionals to organize the Papal events, but rather hired locals to put together the several aspects of the day and a half the Pontiff would be in the city.

One of those events was a Youth Rally at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium; 65,000 people aged fifteen to twenty-five would have a chance to hear from the Pope. Through happenstance, I was hired, fresh out of graduate school, to be the Coordinator of Youth, English Language Services. It was an experience that would mark my life to this day.

Father John Walsh was the person in charge of the English Language element of Montreal’s Papal Visit, and therefore my boss. And a better boss I could not have had.

Papal Youth Rally in Montreal 1984
Courtesy http://www.michaeljournal.org

I can’t begin to figure out how many times in the intervening years, since I spent those months with Father John, that I have found myself in some sort of personal, career, or professional situation and asked myself ‘What would Walsh have done?’.

He was a man of the cloth, and also very much a people-person. He was a bit of a ham, I don’t think he ever met a microphone or camera that he didn’t like. He had a wicked sense of humour. He was a boss, friend, and mentor. He took my name, Deegan, and decided he’d call me Digger.

(often) I have found myself in some sort of personal, career, or professional situation and asked myself ‘What would Walsh have done?’.

He often said to others, about me, that you never saw Digger doing anything, yet you came to know that everything was done and to spec. I have held that observation closely throughout my professional days, and cited it in many job interviews, as a Special Event Organizer, community worker, and coordinator of political conventions.

The last time I saw Father John was about six years ago. It was in early March. He was at a lunch meeting with a group from the local Irish Community in a popular downtown pub. I was having a beer. On his way out we chatted briefly, I offered him a drink, he declined reminding me he always gave up booze for Lent. We exchanged contact info and promised to get together after Easter, but as so often happens we never did.

In a statement the Montreal archdiocese said the Father Walsh had suffered a massive heart attack. It would have taken something of that magnitude to take a man with a massive heart like Father John’s

I was shocked and saddened today when, while enjoying a strangely warm November day in a local park, I received a text from a friend informing me of Father John’s passing. He seemed to be one of those people who you thought would be with us always. In a statement the Montreal archdiocese said the Father Walsh had suffered a massive heart attack. It would have taken something of that magnitude to take a man with a massive heart like Father John’s.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. Rest in peace Father John. Thank you.

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Sports Look Faster In Person – Usually

Ernesto Escobedo serves to Nikoloz Basilashvili

I am a fan of sports. But not being a fan of crowds I tend to limit myself to television coverage. Recently we were given a pair of “Prestige Passes” to attend the Rogers Cup ATP event in Montreal.

Settling in I was pleased that there were several empty seats to my right, affording me plenty of room and no claustrophobic feelings at all.

With a sunny day forecast, free parking provided and fifth-row seats how could I say no. So off we went to Parc Jarry in the city’s northern section, a place I had not been to since I worked on the Pope’s visit in 1984. The new tennis facility which integrates the original home of the Montreal Expos is lovely.

We took our seats in the fifth row to watch a match pitting American Ernesto Escobedo against Nikoloz Basilashvili of the Georgia. Settling in I was pleased that there were several empty seats to my right, affording me plenty of room and no claustrophobic feelings at all.

In person, one understands just how fast hockey players skate and shoot the puck. The speed of a fastball is clearly evident from box seats.

I have attended hockey games, football games, baseball games, Formula 1 races, even a few soccer matches.  What always strikes me, particularly in the case of F1 races, is how television coverage does not do justice to the speed of the event. In person, one understands just how fast hockey players skate and shoot the puck. The speed of a fastball is clearly evident from box seats. A football running-back’s dart down the field and the physical contact of the game are impressive, to say the least.

Then there is tennis.

This was my second professional tennis match. The first was many years ago and featured Gabriela Sabatini. On both occasions, I came away thinking how slow the game is in person. With the exception of the delivery of services, or serves, which are tremendously fast. Tennis looks better on TV to this armchair athlete.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Papal Visits Past and Present

Papal_Mass

An interesting combination of the time of year coupled with a papal visit is making me nostalgic. As Pope Francis currently visits Cuba and the U.S. I find myself thinking back 32 years to September 1984 when then Pope John Paul II visited Canada.

Upon finishing grad school I had done a few jobs while looking for something more career-like when, out of the blue, I found myself employed as the Coordinator of Youth – English Language Services of the 1984 Papal Visit to Montreal. I started in February, we were housed in a centuries-old building in Old Montreal, by the port. A part of the city that is a magnet for tourists in the summer, but that can be quite desolate in winter.

Papal_ID

My responsibilities fell into two main categories; pre-visit animation and preparations for the Youth Rally at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

I am struck by the effect of Pope Francis on Americans of all religions. It is reminiscent of  how people reacted to JPII in 1984. One assumes Catholics are going to be deeply moved, but non-Catholics and even non-believers are often touched by the pontiff. And if they are not moved spirituality, they can’t help but be impressed by the immensity of a papal visit. Insane levels of security are put in place such that even residents of cities like New York and Washington D.C. who see more than their fair share of hoopla are talking.

Papal_ID_2

In 1984 there was a great feeling of flying by the seat of our pants as we organized things. Several weeks before the actual visit a federal election was rumoured to be called. This caused great angst as the pope had stated clearly he would not visit any country in the midst of an election campaign lest he be ‘used’ by one party or another in photo opportunities etc. Fortunately the election was held prior to the visit so all our work and anticipation was not wasted and the visit went ahead.

It was a wonderful experience that opened many doors to me, including several years coordination political conventions.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Dalai Lama To Replace NFL Commissioner Goodell? Close But Not Quite

Prayer_Wheels

With the league facing a huge backlash over recent legal problems, the NFL is in the main news more often than the sports these days. However the problems don’t seem to be affecting attendance and for an organization that is profit-driven, this doesn’t augur well for those who see a need for a change.

… as players are introduced and run out of the tunnel, instead of high-fiving scantily clad, bouncing cheerleaders, they would use essentially the same motion to spin several prayer wheels

Any significant change would have to start at the very top and league Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he’s not going anywhere. With his skills at making it rain money, the owners are in no hurry to see he leave either. But sometimes public pressure does come to bear, as has been evident in the recent fire-sales of NBA teams after remarks made by owners. If the NFL does succumb to public opinion and oust Goodell who would be a suitable replacement?

I had the answer right up until this morning: the Dalai Lama. The NFL is a very big entity, and Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama was born, possibly several times, to be the leader a huge group. His calm, serene approach can’t help but have a soothing effect on players, no doubt leading to better relations off the field. His command of the English-language isn’t great, yet still better than that of many players.

Penalties and fouls would be called transgressions and instead of referees tossing flags, they would tie a simple “protection and blessing” red cord around the wrist of the transgressor, and forgive.

Imagine if you will, at the beginning of a game, as players are introduced and run out of the tunnel, instead of high-fiving scantily clad, bouncing cheerleaders, they would use essentially the same motion to spin several prayer wheels!

Penalties and fouls would be called transgressions and instead of referees tossing flags, they would tie a simple “protection and blessing” red cord around the wrist of the transgressor, and forgive.

I had the whole thing figured out and then this morning the Dalai Lama put the skids to it all be Tweeting this:

While I agree dialogue is always a good thing, in a league with a distinct aversion to tied games, most won’t buy into the Dalai Lama’s idea that winning and losing are out of date!

I wonder if the Pope might be a better choice? Heaven and Hell are all about winners and losers.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Thirty Years Ago Today The Pope Visited Montreal

Up until 13 years ago, for me September 11th was the anniversary of the visit to Montreal of Pope John Paul II. A project on which I was lucky enough to work as coordinator of youth.

Since 2001 the concept of 9/11 has, understandably, taken on a whole different meaning for most of the world. With the memories of that horrific day fresh in people’s minds, even after more than a dozen years.

I had lost track of how many years ago the Visit took place.

Where did those thirty years go?

IMG_0903.PNG

Postmedia News Files

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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PETA and Pope Francis’ Peace Doves

Yesterday Pope Francis had a bad day. While addressing the Sunday crowd in St. Peter’s Square he had a young man and woman release two doves as symbols of peace.  Unfortunately these birds were soon flying for their lives in an attempt to elude larger birds who evidently dine on doves. There was nothing peaceful about the scene. One can only pray that the Holy Father’s security contingent does more research than those who plan his Sunday events. I certainly hope the poor papal pigeons made it to safety, but I was wondering what the folks at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) might have to say about the incident.

Please keep in mind that the Memo below is a work of fiction!

 

The above is a work of pure fiction

The above is a work of pure fiction

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Pope Francis and Joe Boxer

Like many, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, I have been impressed with Pope Francis since his election. His humility and clear concern for the common person have become hallmarks of his papacy. His refusal to don many of the traditional trappings of a pope, including living in a smaller residence and using a common car around the Vatican, have shown him to be down-to-earth. I just have to believe he has a great sense of humour as well. And so with that in mind, I present the following recently hacked image from the Joe Boxer advertisement auditions.
FergKmart

I’m not sure Francis needed to go to such lengths to display his humility, but then it is Joe Boxer, not Tommy Hilfiger or Hugo Boss. I can’t imagine why he didn’t get the gig. Okay … maybe I made up the whole thing …

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Pope Francis on Copacabana Beach: Throngs and thongs

Mention of Copacabana Beach in Brazil usually brings to mind large crowds of sunbathers in very small bathing suits massed along the beautiful shoreline. However that image has been usurped, at least temporarily, by another also involving a large group of people. The beach is currently home to thousands of pilgrims attending World Youth Day 2013.

… because he misheard when told pilgrims in throngs would attend and thought it was pilgrims in thongs!

Pope Francis has been front and centre in Brazil as he continues to be a man of the people, even if that drives his security people crazy! One local rumour has been quashed that, according to sources, had Francis originally agreeing to the beach venue because he misheard when told pilgrims in throngs would attend and thought it was pilgrims in thongs!

I’ve got this feeling Francis would have enjoyed dropping by the beach before the pilgrims arrived to work on his tan a bit!

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Pope Francis fast-tracks saints

PopeJohnXXIII

This week the Weekly Writing Challenge calls for humor. Having already commented on the rumor of a Papal recall, I thought I’d take on the latest news from the Vatican!

Now just a gosh darn moment. According to the New York Times, Pope Francis “has sped two of his predecessors toward sainthood”.  Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII have been fast-tracked for sainthood. Why? Because Francis liked them. Geez Louise, so much for being a man of the common folk. I wonder how Francis would have felt if someone cut in line at his old newspaper kiosk in Buenos Aries? I imagine he would have mentioned it to the paper vendor who might have explained that the person jumped the line because he liked him. I can’t see Francis standing still for that!

I have always thought the pope who followed Pope John Paul should have been called Pope George Ringo

And John XXIII doesn’t even have a second miracle attributed to him. Come on, what kind of saints can we expect from Francis? Cheaters who butt into line without the proper credentials? I can hear it now: Pray to old One-Miracle Johnny? Not a chance.

If nothing else, Pope Francis has shown again that he is his own man

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis was eager to canonize John XXIII. “Despite the absence of a second miracle it was the pope’s will that the sainthood of the great pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized.”

Pope Francis thinks rules were made to be broken. I, for one hope he’s just as understanding when it comes to Commandments!

PopeJohnPaulIII have to admit one miracle would convince me; you cure one person and you’ve proven to this agent you’re not your average Joe, Pius or John Paul. (I have always though the pope who followed Pope John Paul should have been called Pope George Ringo.) But there are rules and regulations to this sainthood business and clearly Pope Francis thinks rules were made to be broken. I, for one hope he’s just as understanding when it comes to Commandments!

I can hear it now: Pray to old One-Miracle Johnny? Not a chance

If nothing else, Pope Francis has shown again that he is his own man. It is refreshing to see a pontiff who is laying down new tracks rather than riding the old. But I am concerned about a rumor he’s been scanning the roster of the New Orleans NFL team …

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Pope Francis fast-tracks saints

PopeJohnXXIIINow just a gosh darn moment. According to the New York Times, Pope Francis “has sped two of his predecessors toward sainthood”.  Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII have been fast-tracked for sainthood. Why? Because Francis liked them. Geez Louise, so much for being a man of the common folk. I wonder how Francis would have felt if someone cut in line at his old newspaper kiosk in Buenos Aries? I imagine he would have mentioned it to the paper vendor who might have explained that the person jumped the line because he liked him. I can’t see Francis standing still for that!

I have always thought the pope who followed Pope John Paul should have been called Pope George Ringo

And John XXIII doesn’t even have a second miracle attributed to him. Come on, what kind of saints can we expect from Francis? Cheaters who butt into line without the proper credentials? I can hear it now: Pray to old One-Miracle Johnny? Not a chance.

If nothing else, Pope Francis has shown again that he is his own man

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis was eager to canonize John XXIII. “Despite the absence of a second miracle it was the pope’s will that the sainthood of the great pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized.”

Pope Francis thinks rules were made to be broken. I, for one hope he’s just as understanding when it comes to Commandments!

PopeJohnPaulIII have to admit one miracle would convince me; you cure one person and you’ve proven to this agent you’re not your average Joe, Pius or John Paul. (I have always though the pope who followed Pope John Paul should have been called Pope George Ringo.) But there are rules and regulations to this sainthood business and clearly Pope Francis thinks rules were made to be broken. I, for one hope he’s just as understanding when it comes to Commandments!

I can hear it now: Pray to old One-Miracle Johnny? Not a chance

If nothing else, Pope Francis has shown again that he is his own man. It is refreshing to see a pontiff who is laying down new tracks rather than riding the old. But I am concerned about a rumor he’s been scanning the roster of the New Orleans NFL team …

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