By Gordon Nary
Gordon: When you received your vocation, with whom did you discuss it and what was their advice?
Father Pierre: My vocation has matured over time, so it is something I have discussed with many people. Your question, though, refers to my discernment to enter into Religious Life. This too I discussed with many people. But as I look back on those discussions, it was not for their sake that I shared my story, it was for my own. By talking it out I was able to come to terms with it, to understand myself and my relationship with God better.
Gordon: Where did you attend seminary?
Father Pierre: I studied theology at Newman Theological College in Edmonton Alberta. As a Religious, I lived in the house of my community and went to school like any other student. The real joy of life at NTC was the fact that I could study with lay people, other Religious, as well as diocesan seminarians. In those days it was joyful because I had many talented, and musical, classmates. I developed my ability to sing, as well as think and discern. All of this gave me great joy!
Gordon: Where was you first assignment and what did you find most rewarding?
Father Pierre: My first assignment was as deacon to St. Mary’s Parish in Cochrane, Alberta. I was good year. I had very good mentor, and learned much.
Gordon: What are your responsibilities as Vicar Provincial of the Franciscans of Western Canada ?
Father Pierre: My responsibilities as Vicar Provincial of Canada’s western Province of Franciscans is to help transition the province toward a new Province. We are joining our brothers from Quebec to create a new pan-Canadian entity. So this is very exciting for us all. I have been working closely with the process through which have learned so much. What I find most exciting is learning about the other province with whom we are journeying. I have been learning the language, their customs, and culture. All of it is making me a better person, I hope; I am very rewarded by this work.
Gordon: What are your responsibilities as formation director at your house of studies in Edmonton, Alberta?
Father Pierre: As formation director, my job is to accompany those journeying on their way to solemn vows as Franciscan Friars. Given that these are men, the same age as myself in fact, the job is not the most time consuming. Our friars in formation work hard and tend to be self-starters. They need a little guidance every once and while, and it is important that I am there for them when they do. But in the end, it is their vocation, not mine, that they have to live. My job is to support them in what God is calling them to do.
Gordon: What can parishes do to encourage more vocations to the priesthood?
Father Pierre: Your question is a good one – and one that I am asking myself and others.
As a Franciscan, however, the Priesthood itself does not play the largest role in my identity. I identify first with my baptism, and secondly with my Religious Order, and only thirdly as a Priest. So, this shapes how I approach the search for vocations.
I believe that parishes can play a role in supporting vocations because a parish is a microcosm of the Church. A parish celebrates all the sacraments. It is the place of encounter with the Christian community. For a parish, and for the Church in general, to encourage vocations, it needs to encourage faith. The more believers, the more vocations in general. If we are able to call forth the gifts of all the baptized we will find vocations of every sort. Of this I am convinced.
Gordon: Congratulation on your appointment to serve as Pastor of St. Jospeh the Worker Parish on July 1, 2018.
Father Pierre: Thanks! I am looking forward to it. We Franciscans are committing to this parish. It marks the return of a Franciscan Community to Vancouver after more than 30 years. It is an example of the revitalization that is taking place within the Franciscans of Canada.
Gordon: Thank you for a great interview!